NJASLA First 50 years: Who is Luciano 'Lu' Miceli?

Prepared by John T. Duda, NJASLA Vice President

The New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects was formed in 1964. NJASLA will be celebrating its 50-year anniversary in 2014.

In an effort to reaffirm the history of our Chapter, I would like to introduce you to some of our founding members. Attendees at the first meeting held in 1964 included:  Don Richardson, Paul Krarup, Ross Pell, Larry Dumont, Lu Miceli, John Weed, Richard Cripps, Elizabeth Pattee, Russ Butler, Al Dilischer, Max Heim, Roy H. DeBoer, Oliver Deakin, John Haleck and Jeff Hall.

Parallel to the history on the NJASLA is that of the landscape architecture firm founded by Lu in 1964, which is one of - if not the - oldest Landscape Architectural firms in New Jersey.

Luciano Miceli, (FASLA), better known as Lu, was the third New Jersey Chapter President serving from 1969-1972. A graduate of the University of Georgia, class of 1961, Lu also studied at the State University of New York Farmingdale where he earned an Associate degree in Ornamental Horticulture in 1958. While at Farmingdale, he met his lifelong partner and wife, Joyce Peterson. Together, they now have 4 children and 7 grandchildren. 

After graduation from UGA, Lu and Joyce moved back to New York. Lu joined the engineering firm of Andrews and Clark and eventually moved on to work at the NYC Housing Authority for a brief period of time. He then joined Zion and Breen in New York City and worked on several of the firm's notable projects including the 1964 Worlds Fair, the New York Museum of Modern Art and Paley Park. In 1964, he left Zion and Breen and together with John Andres and John Weed formed the firm Andres Miceli Weed, located in Rutherford, NJ.

During the early years Lu was extremely active in the NJASLA. He was instrumental in helping the organization grow and by initiating the NJASLA's first attempt to get LA licensure by testifying numerous times in front of the state board. 

Early work at the firm was split between NYC projects and New Jersey. A number of strong relationships were forged with multi-discipline firms, architects and developers, such as the Grad Partnership, Roth/Johnson, Barry Ginsburg and Mitch Hirsch of Mack Developers, which served the firm well throughout the years. 

Major New Jersey projects included Spruce Run State Park, redevelopment of the Mercer-Jackson neighborhood in Trenton, St Peter's Community Park in Newark and the Hackensack River Corridor plan. 

In 1967, Bruce Kulik joined the firm and had an immediate positive impact on the design direction and future success of the firm. Bruce's strong design and graphic skills were a nice complement to Lu's strong management and business skills. 

 

In the 1970's the firm was heavily involved in the redevelopment of small urban and suburban downtowns as well as suburban office building campuses throughout the tri state area. Notable projects include Downtown Phoenixville Pa, Bangor Me, Wheeling WV, Chambersburg Pa and White Plains NY as well as numerous Mack and other office building projects in northern NJ. In the early 70's major changes to the firm included Bruce Kulik becoming a partner in 1972, John Weed leaving the firm in 1974, and John Williams joining the firm in 1977. John is shown to the right of Lu Micelli in this photo taken at the ASLA Fellows Induction ceremony.

 

In the 80's, with continued growth, the firm become involved in several large NYC parks projects including Cunningham Park, Clove Lakes, Flushing meadows Corona Park and the Flushing Bay Promenade. The firm's longstanding relationship with the NYC dept of Parks continues on, even to this day. 

 

In 1995, recognizing their lifelong achievements Lu and partner Bruce Kulik were elected fellows by the ASLA for their contributions to the profession in the built works category. 

 

The 1990's and 2000's also saw big changes with longtime associate John Williams becoming a Partner in 1988 and Lu stepping down and retiring from active practice in 1996. The firm also suffered the untimely loss of Bruce Kulik in 2000. New partners, Allen Juba, John Duda and Linda Barrie Gumeny were added in 2002 to help manage the firms ever growing and complex work load and project list such as, the Hudson River Park, the Atlantic City Corridor, and Dallas Children's Adventure Garden. This core group carrying on the firm that Lu began in 1964 is now known as MKW+Associates and still operates out of the same location on Park Avenue in Rutherford, NJ. During its history, the firm has produced numerous NJASLA Presidents and other Executive Committee Members, Trustees and general members. 

 

Complementing his office activities, Lu was an instructor, lecturer and visiting critic at the Department of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers and the Department of Architecture at NJIT, as well as being a member of the advisory board at NJIT Dept of Architecture. Lu has also authored numerous articles and spoken extensively on many topics concerning Landscape architecture and Urban Design. Since his retirement, Lu and Joyce have enjoyed traveling, spending winters in their Florida home and enjoying time with their family.

 

This is the third in a series of articles about the history of the NJASLA. The series is being authored in celebration of the 50 year anniversary of the ASLA New Jersey Chapter. For more information about #NJASLA50, visit the NJASLA website at www.njasla.org.

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