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Professor Emeritus Michael Laurie, former chair of landscape architecture at UC Berkeley, dies at age 69
04 April 2002

Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations

Berkeley - Michael M. Laurie, a professor emeritus in the University of California, Berkeley's Department of Landscape Architecture and a former chair of that department, has died at the age of 69.

Laurie died Tuesday, March 19, at his home in San Francisco. A memorial service is planned for late spring.

Laurie, who specialized in design, the history of landscape architecture, and landscape architecture education, was a faculty member in the department since 1962, starting as a lecturer and becoming a full professor in 1979. He served as chair from 1991 to 1998, and had been an emeritus professor since then.

He authored "An Introduction to Landscape Architecture," which first was released in 1975 and again in 1986. It covered traditional elements as well as the broadening activities of this field, which is concerned with environmental quality and interrelationships between large-scale landscape planning and urban design. The book is widely used around the world and has been translated into Japanese and Spanish. He was co-editor, with Grace Hall, of "Gardens Are For People," by Thomas Church.

Laurie also completed a two-part history of landscape architecture at UC Berkeley, covering the first 75 years of the department.

The native of Perthshire, Scotland, won the 1988 Outstanding Educator Award from the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture in recognition of excellence in teaching, research and service to education. He also won the Bradford Williams Medal from the American Society of Landscape Architects for his written articles.

Clare Cooper Marcus, a UC Berkeley emeritus professor of landscape architecture and architecture, said she arrived on campus as a graduate student in city planning about the same time Laurie began to lecture here. She took landscape architecture classes taught by Laurie.

"He introduced me to design and looking at the visual world from a design and aesthetic point of view," she said, adding that he encouraged her to teach a course on her research into how the designed environment influences human beings. She did, and continued to teach that and allied subjects for the rest of her career.

In 1993, Laurie exhibited 28 watercolor sketches at UC Berkeley's Wurster Hall in a show titled "Regions of California." In recent years, he had a retirement cottage built near the coast of Scotland and visited there.

Laurie received a diploma in landscape architecture from the University of Reading, England, in 1956. From 1956-58, he was a design assistant to Sylvia Crowe, a landscape architect in London, and helped her with the illustrations and research for her book, "Landscape of Power." From 1958-1959, he held a research post at the University of Liverpool. In 1962, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a master's degree in landscape architecture.

Survivors include his brothers, Alistar and Hamish, both of Scotland.