IFLA 2011 SGJA AWARDEE
CORNELIA HAHN OBERLANDER
Cornelia Hahn Oberlander has made an outstanding contribution to Landscape Architecture through her life-long commitment to her chosen profession. Her achievement in all aspects of landscape architecture – landscape planning, landscape research, landscape design and landscape management – has been quite impressive.
Throughout the breadth of her endeavors, one common thread stands out: her concern for both environment and people. She has continued to develop and expand her skills over a lifetime as needs and opportunities have evolved – starting at the local community level and expanding her horizons as her focus has gone first nationally in Canada, then continentally to North America, and finally to a global perspective with her focus on sustainability and matters relating to climate change.
Ms Oberlander has been producing designs for a greener future for six decades. Working initially with low-income communities, her attention broadened to include playgrounds and parks, and then international projects. She has shown a deep commitment to environmental sustainability, not only through her designs and the quality of her work, but also through sharing her knowledge and ideas by writing books, preparing exhibitions and presenting lectures.
Ms. Oberlander continues to make significant contributions in collaboration with architects and engineers on projects of international recognition. Her ability to work creatively as a member of an inter-disciplinary team with architects and engineers, basing all projects on design concepts and finding technical solutions through research, is demonstrated in her long list of built projects. She has achieved an uncommonly high level of respect and recognition from members of landscape architecture’s related professions of architecture, planning and engineering.
She decided from her 11th year onward that she had only one goal: to become a Landscape Architect and design out-door spaces for the enjoyment of all in our urban environment. As one of the first women to graduate from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, she was a female pioneer in the field of landscape architecture, and started up her own design practice collaborating with modernist architects.
“I dream of Green Cities with Green Buildings where rural and urban activities live in harmony. Achieving a fit between the built form and the land has been my dictum. This can only be done if all our design-related professions collaborate and thereby demonstrate cooperatively their relevance in meeting the enormous developmental challenges facing our increasingly crowded urban regions” (Oberlander 2002).”
Her motto for solving difficult tasks on each project is the five “Pʼs”: Persistence, Patience, Politeness, Professionalism and Passion. Ms. Oberlander has practiced this with an innovative approach to her chosen profession that is a model for any aspiring landscape architect. She has clearly had a unique and lasting impact on the welfare of society and the environment, and on the promotion of the profession of landscape architecture and is a most worthy recipient of the IFLA Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award.