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K-State Today

January 20, 2015



Landscape architect Matthew Urbanski presenting College of Architecture, Planning & Design's 2015 Ekdahl Lecture

By Thom Jackson

The Ekdahl Lecture, a part of the College of Architecture, Planning & Design's 2015 Distinguished Lecture Series, will present Matthew Urbanski at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, in the Little Theatre at the K-State Student Union. Urbanski's presentation, "Principal," is free and the public is invited.

Urbanski was invited by the landscape architecture and regional & community planning department to present examples from his work at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. He will discuss the growing recognition that great landscapes are key components in the making great cities livable and critical to their economic competitiveness. He will talk about the ongoing evolution of urban infrastructure, as derelict industrial sites — former margins — become the foundations for new parks, and about the way that landscape imagination guides the integration of form, program and experience.

Through projects such as Brooklyn Bridge Park, a Gathering Place for Tulsa and Maggie Daley Park, among others, Urbanski will discuss various strategies for sustainability and complexity at multiple scales of design, and demonstrate how resourcefulness is frequently the engine of landscape transformation.

Urbanski is a principal of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc., where he has worked for more than two decades. Along with his partners Michael Van Valkenburgh and Laura Solano, he has been part of the project leadership for almost every major project the firm has completed. He has planned and designed landscapes in the U.S., Canada and France, including waterfronts, parks, college campuses, sculpture gardens and private gardens.

Collaborating with Van Valkenburgh, he was a lead designer of Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn, New York; Segment 5 of the Hudson River Park in New York City; Alumnae Valley at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts; Allegheny Riverfront Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Teardrop Park in New York City; and Mill Race Park in Columbus, Indiana. He frequently uses plantings in dramatic ways that create a distinctive complement to an urban or architectural context.

Founded more than 35 years ago as a memorial honoring Topeka architect and university alumnus Oscar Ekdahl, the Ekdahl Lectures bring practitioners, teachers, critics, theorists and artists to campus for interaction with students, faculty and alumni. The lecture series focuses on issues affecting the quality of the physical environment and the leadership roles played by the speakers. The purpose of the series is to inform and challenge as well as to reinforce and complement the educational programs of the College of Architecture, Planning & Design.

The APDesign Lecture Series is funded in part by the K-State fine arts fee with support from the Ekdahl family.