Michael is a founding partner of Future Cities, a company specializing in urban development and the programming and design of complex public / private sector sports and entertainment projects. In 2018, Michael relocated from Los Angeles to Richmond, VA to lead a development team in the North of Broad project, a $1.4B mixed-use development that will transform that City’s urban center.
Throughout his career as a practicing architect, Michael was recognized as one of the leading innovators in sports and entertainment planning and design. In May 2004, Sports Business Journal named him one of the “20 most influential persons in the design and development of sports facilities”. A co-founder of two leading sports architectural practices in the U.S., he also writes and lectures on the subject of destination attractors and creating better patterns for the inducement for ancillary urban development.
His career began in Phoenix, Arizona. There he helped lead a resurgence of interest in that City’s downtown with a series of built projects that re-introduced entertainment and retail to the City’s underdeveloped urban center. Those projects include the Herberger Theater, the Rouse Company’s Arizona Center, US Airways Center Arena and Chase Field Ballpark. During this period, Michael as appointed to that city’s inaugural Arts Commission and authored Phoenix’s first “Percent for Arts” ordinance.
In 1988, Michael founded Ellerbe Becket Sports Architects with a focus on urban core venues. An unprecedented era of private/ public development ensued fueled by designs that supported creative new revenue streams. From 1988 to 1995, the firm designed NBA/NHL arenas in Boston, New York (MSG’s renovation), Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Buffalo, Cleveland, St. Louis, Tampa, Phoenix, Portland ; new ballparks such as Atlanta’s Turner Field, and Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ, as well new venues in Manchester (UK), Oberhausen (Germany), and Saitama (Japan) and the Ahmanson Theater at the Los Angeles Music Center.
In 1995, he founded NBBJ Sports and Entertainment in Los Angeles. NBBJ quickly became a leader in promoting the close synergy of sports and entertainment in planning and design. The practice became known internationally for trend setting design work and immersive presentation style using larger scale physical models, computer-generated animations and video technology. Project highlights include the Staples Center Arena in Los Angeles, retractable roof ballparks Safeco Field in Seattle and Miller Park in Milwaukee, the Dodge Theatre in Phoenix, AZ and the American Architecture award winning Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati OH.