bachelor of landscape architecture ‘84
Paul Morris, FASLA brings people, civic design together
Paul F. Morris’s career trajectory is a unique configuration of the role and practice of landscape design and setting new standards for community design process facilitation. He never envisioned that his path would take him to many communities to discuss, mediate, and design public spaces and to guide the national dialogue on landscape architecture.
His path has taken him to Oklahoma City; Littleton, Colorado; New York; and Springfield, Oregon, where tragic events affected entire communities. He comes to work on the healing process with local residents as a designer and group facilitator. He frequently remarks that Americans “are learning again how vital is the public realm to a whole and healthy civic society.”
Morris is a landscape architect, registered mediator, and served as national president of the American Society of Landscape Architects from 2002-2003, the second-youngest national president and the only one from Oregon in the history of the organization.
He earned a BLA from the University of Oregon in 1984 and a graduate certificate in planning and development from Harvard University. He was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1998.
In 1999, he and his business partner, Mike McKeever, sold their firm, McKeever/ Morris to Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas. Morris later became senior supervising landscape architect and lead urban designer for the Portland office of PB’s National Land Use Resource Center.
Morris served as deputy secretary for transit for the North Carolina Department of Transportation from 2011-2013, where he directed almost 900 full- and part-time employees and an $800 million budget for the agency’s five multimodal divisions: aviation, bicycle and pedestrian transportation, ferry, public transportation, and rail.
His experience in twenty-five states and ten foreign countries has led him to develop a deep and abiding sensitivity to the social and cultural values that uniquely define place. Whether among residents of small towns or big cities, he seeks their insights to discover solutions that display the unique beauty and individuality of every setting.
In his inaugural address to the national American Society of Landscape Architects in 2002, Morris urged his colleagues to accept the demands of society today. “Landscape architecture is all about the challenge of creating meaningful and lasting places for people,” he said. “In the midst of the challenges we now face, there can be no mistake that tremendous opportunities lay waiting for us to lead and demonstrate who we are and what we offer to society.”
As Oregon ASLA chapter president in the mid-1990s, Morris instigated efforts including sponsoring a conference on sustainable development, initiating with UO students the Shadow Mentor Day, and establishing a permanent endowment fund for UO scholarships.
His work has been published extensively and earned several awards, but more importantly his projects have become significant places for people. One notable project in Oregon is the Twin Creeks Planned Community Development in Central Point, Oregon. This transit-oriented development project was given the 2001-02 Ahwahnee Award by the Local Government Commission in Sacramento, California, to recognize projects that further creation of livable communities.
With Morris’s efforts to set the future course for the profession, he asks landscape architects to accept their role as leaders and collaborators to improve the quality of life for all Americans-one community at a time.
This story was published as part of the 100 Stories collection, compiled to celebrate our 2014 centennial and recognize the achievements and contributions of our alumni worldwide. View the entire 100 Stories archive on the College of Design website.