Robert Murase

Name Robert Murase
Born September 9 1938
Died July 19 2005
Birth Location San Francisco
Generational Identifier


Kazuo Robert Murase (1938-2005) was an acclaimed Sansei landscape architect who was based in the Pacific Northwest, where some of his most celebrated gardens are located.

Born in San Francisco, California, on October 9, 1938, Murase was only three years old when he was sent with his parents and grandparents to the Tanforan Assembly Center and later to the American concentration camp in Topaz , Utah. After World War II, the family returned to San Francisco. As a teenager, Murase worked for his uncle, a landscape contractor, and learned the trade firsthand before enrolling at the University of California, Berkeley, to formally study landscape architecture. In 1965, he was hired by Robert Royston & Associates and began his career. To further enrich his experience in the landscape architecture field Murase moved to Japan, where he maintained a practice for almost ten years, conducting garden research at Kyoto University.

In the early 1980s, he taught landscape architecture at the University of Oregon for three years and worked with a Portland firm before establishing his own landscape architecture firm, Murase Associates, in 1982. In 1987 Murase Associates opened an office in Seattle.

Among his dozens of renowned projects are the courtyard garden at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, the Garden of Remembrance at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, Washington, the Yao Garden addition to the botanical gardens at Wilburton Hill Community Park in Bellevue, Washington, the Pier 69 headquarters of the Port of Seattle, Microsoft's Redmond West campus and Safeco's Redmond campus and a large rock and water sculpture at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport's new south terminal international arrival hall. Murase was a fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects. His award-winning work also can be found in Japan, the Pacific Basin and the Caribbean, and his projects have been featured in architectural magazines, journals and books in America, Europe and Japan.

Murase was contributed to Touching the Stones, a book tracing 100 years of Japanese American history, which is based on his design of the Japanese American Historical Plaza in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon.

He died at age 66 on July 19, 2005, in Portland, Oregon.

Authored by Patricia Wakida

For More Information

Brown, Charles E. "Robert Murase, 66, noted landscape architect," Seattle Times. July 23, 2005. .

Leccese, Michael. Robert Murase: Stone and Water . Washington, DC: Spacemaker Press, 1997.

Sherman, Mark, and George Katagiri, eds. Touching the Stones: Tracing One Hundred Years of Japanese American History . Portland: Oregon Nikkei Endowment, 1994.

Last updated April 4, 2024, 9:37 p.m..