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Michael Van Valkenburgh

Michael Van Valkenburgh

Award-winning architect | Hired for Obama library | Class of 1977

For Michael Van Valkenburgh, the perfect day started with a trip to what became his favorite C-U eatery.

“My favorite thing about Urbana-Champaign was a diner in downtown Urbana that opened at 5 a.m. and had delicious biscuits and homemade apple butter," says the Class of 1977 alum, now a Boston landscape architect.

"I used to see my department head, Bob Riley, there. He was also an early bird. Loved the place, loved the food, loved running into Bob.”

These days, Van Valkenburgh is the Charles Eliot Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at Harvard, where he served as chair of the Graduate School of Design from 1991-96.

In 2017, his firm was commissioned to design the landscape for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.