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OBERLANDER, Cornelia Hahn

Muelheim-Ruhr, Germany, 1921
Biography synopsis
In 1939, Oberlander (nee Hahn) left Germany and emigrated with her family to the United States. She obtained a BA from Smiths College in 1944, and in 1947 was the first woman landscape architect to graduate from the Harvard Graduate School of Design where she studied under Walter Gropius among others. In the 50s Oberlander work with Louis Kahn and Oscar Stonorov in Philadelphia where she was a community planner for the city, working on public housing projects. She also worked with landscape architect Dan Kiley in Vermont before moving with her husband to Vancouver, in 1953 where she founded a small landscape architecture firm in 1960. Oberlander designed the Children’s Creative Center for Expo 67 in Montreal; her participation led to the design of 70 playgrounds across Canada. She was among the early adopters of modernist ideas and values that encouraged collaboration across disciplines. She collaborated for over 35 years with Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, on numerous projects in Vancouver, as well as with other architects including Bing Thom, Moshe Safdie (National Gallery of Canada) and Renzo Piano (New York Times Building). She was the recipient of numerous awards including among others: the American Society of Landscape Architects medal (2012), Margolese National Design for Living (2015) granted by UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) made Oberlander the inaugural recipient of the Governor General’s Medal in Landscape Architecture (2016).
Media used
Landscape architecture
Harvard Graduate School of Design (under Walter Gropius)
Smith College
Order of Canada
Order of Canada
British Columbia Society of Landscape Architects, Vancouver
File & Archive locations
Canadian Centre for Architecture, QC - Library
University of Guelph, ON - Archival & Special Collections
University of Calgary Library, AB
University of British Columbia Archives
Vancouver Historical Society
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, QC - Media Centre

Writings about
"Cornelia Hahn Oberlander Landscape Architect." Perspectives in Landscape Design 18.2 (Spring 2001): 1-3.
"The Gentle Touch [St. Andrew's Hospice, Airdrie, Scotland]." Building Design 846 (1987 July 24): 10.
Birnbaum, Charles A.. "Moss in Wonderland." Garden Design 152 (May 2008): 20.
Canadian Society of Landscape Architects. Cornelia Hahn Oberlander. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, 2016
Carney, Pat. "Queen of Green Just Keeps Sowing; at 93, Green-space Pioneer Cornelia Hahn Oberlander Continues to Transform Public Places." The Vancouver Sun 28 Jun 2014: C5.
Cavell, Richard. Friedman House. Novato, Cal: ORO, 2017.
Cohen, Susan. "Cornelia Hahn Oberlander : VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Centre, Vancouver, Canada." The Inspired Landscape: Twenty-one Leading Landscape Architects Explore the Creative Process. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2015.
Ditmars, Hadani. "Orange Trees in Vancouver? How Elitist." Maclean's 21 Apr. 2014: 60..
Doiron, Gabrielle. Play on Display: Tracing Encounters with Cornelia Hahn Oberlander's Expo 67 Playground MA Thesis: Concordia University, 2017
Gold, K.. "Marine Gardens Gently Fades Away." The Globe and Mail 23 May 2015.
Gournay, Isabelle and Jane Loeffler. "Washington and Ottawa: A Tale of Two Embassies." Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 61.4 (Dec 2002): 480-507.
Hampson, Sarah. "At 93, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander is Still One of Canada's Most Beloved Landscape Architects." Globe and Mail 25 Jul 2014.
Hanson, Sarah. "Still Raising the Roof, One Garden at a Time." The Globe and Mail. 26 Jul 2014: L.9..
Herrington, Susan. Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Making the Modern Landscape Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press,, 2014.
Herrington, Susan. "Beauty Past and Future." Landscape Research 41.4 (Apr 2016): 441-449.
Herrington, Susan. "Cornelia Hahn Oberlander." The Canadian Architect 60.8 (2015): 42.
Herrington, Susan. "Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: A Model Modern." Women, Modernity, and Landscape Architecture. Edited by Sonja Dümpelmann, John Beardsley New York: Routledge, 2015: 185-202.
Herrington, Susan. "Designing with Water Above the Arctic Circle: East Three School." Journal of Landscape Architecture 8.2 (2013): 44-51.
Herrington, Susan. "EXPO 67 Revisited." Landscapes/Paysages 7.2 (Spring 2005): 12-14
Herrington, Susan. "Restoring a Modern Landscape in the Anthropocene: Cornelia Hahn Oberlander." APT Bulletin: The Journal of Preservation Technology Vol. 47, No. 2/3 47. 2/3 (2016): 23-28.
Hillel, Joseph. City Dreamers/Reveuses de Villes. Montreal, QC: Couzin Films, 2018.
Hollingsworth, F., Pei, IM & Oberlander, Cornelia Hahn, et a. "Results of the National Gallery Competition." Canadian Architect 22 4 (1977): 54-62.
Oberdorf, C.. "Ottawa Taiga Reveals Canadas Soul." The Toronto Star. Jul 1996: H2.
Olin, Laurie. et al.. "Landscapes of the Pacific Northwest and Coastal California." Site Lines; Spring2012, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p3-14 7.2 (Spring 2012): 3-14.
Robb, P.. "'I Grew Up Having a Feeling for the Soil'; Cornelia Hahn Oberlander to be Honoured for Distinguished Career as Landscape Architect." The Ottawa Citizen 17 Sep 2016.
Scott, Sarah. "Queen of Green." Canadian Geographic 127.5 (Sep/Oct 2007): 86-94.
Stinson, Kathy. Love Every Leaf: the Life of Landscape Architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander Toronto: Tundra Books, 2008.
Williams, Ron. Landscape Architecture in Canada. Montreal; Kingston: Mcgill-Queen's University Press, 2014.

Writings by
Oberlander, Cornelia H. and Elisabeth Whitelaw. "Invisible Mending: Nestling Native Plants into a Boreal Site." View 11 (Summer 2011): 13-16
Oberlander, Cornelia H. and Elisabeth Whitelaw. "New York Times Building: A Garden at Its Heart." Landscapes/Paysages 10.2 (2008): 20-22.
Oberlander, Cornelia H., et al. Green Roofs A Design Guide and Review of the Relevant Technologies. Ottawa, Ontario: Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2002.
Oberlander, Cornelia H., et al.. "Inuvik Northwest Territories Integrating Design with a Climate of Extremes, a Fragile Ecology, and Cultural Complexities." Sitelines (Feb 2010): 14-15.
Oberlander, Cornelia Hahn. Playgrounds: A Plea for Utopia or the Re-cycled Empty Lot Ottawa, ON: Health and Welfare Canada 1974, 1974.
Oberlander, Cornelia Hahn. Trees in the City New York: Pergamon Press, 1977.
Oberlander, Cornelia Hahn. "A Classical Chinese Garden in Vancouver," City & Country Home 7.4 (May 1988): 131-136..
Oberlander, Cornelia Hahn and H. Peter Oberlander. "The Spirit of Architecture in the Canadian Northwest." Progressive Architecture 1958 (Feb):120-32.

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