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Michael Murphy

At a Glance

Class Year: 1961

Award Year: 2012

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture

Profession: Landscape Architecture / Education


Professor Emeritus Michael Murphy was a mentor to thousands of students during his extraordinary tenure at Texas A&M, said Alan B. Colyer ’81, a former student of Murphy’s and principal at Gensler. “His impact on the profession of landscape architecture is immeasurable.” Murphy joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1969, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Range Science in 1961 and a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture in 1966. He also earned a Master of Landscape Architecture in 1968 from the University of California-Berkeley and a Ph.D. in landscape architecture from the University of Pretoria in 1999. “He was already integrating biophysical and human behavioral considerations in design studios in 1972, when landscape architecture was regarded primarily as an art,” said Jim Manskey, ’79, principal at TBG Partners and one of Murphy’s former students. He developed methodologies emphasizing design decision making based on the application of evidence-based knowledge, emphasizing landscapes as process, rather than the traditional view of landscapes as places. A leader in internationalizing landscape architecture education, Murphy formed a Department of Landscape Architecture as a visiting professor at the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1986-88. Murphy has written several books and articles, including “Landscape Architecture Theory: An Evolving Body of Thought,” “The Changing Nature of Landscape Architectural Practice: the South African Experience,” and "Landscape Architecture Theory: An Ecological Approach." Murphy served as head of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pretoria from 1986-89 and the Department of Landscape Architecture at Texas A&M from 1989-91, and has served as president of the Texas Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Institute of Landscape Architects in South Africa. During occasional leaves of absence from the university, he worked at the Woodlands Development Corporation in Houston and the South African firm of Chris Mulder Associates, designing new community, campus, resort, housing subdivision, office park, botanical garden and conservation planning projects. He received the Texas A&M University Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005 and the College of Architecture Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010. He was named the Design Futures Council’s Design Educator of the Year in 2007, 2008 and 2009.