April 25, 2016
by Canadian Architect
The Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) is pleased to announce that Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, O.C., MBCSLA, FCSLA, FASLA, has been selected by the jury as the inaugural recipient of the Governor General’s Medal in Landscape Architecture.
The Governor General’s Medal in Landscape Architecture (GGMLA) is the highest honour bestowed on a landscape architect by the CSLA. The medal is intended to honour exceptional landscape architects whose lifetime achievements and contributions to the profession have had a unique and lasting impact on Canadian society.
Ms. Hahn Oberlander is the recipient of numerous important awards and has led the landscape architecture community both nationally and internationally throughout her career. She is a respected teacher and has published many books and articles. She continues to create a body of work rooted in building places and policy that supports an intimate and beautiful connection with the natural world. Many ground-breaking ideas, such as the importance of exposure to nature and the creation of opportunities for social interaction, formed the foundation of her design philosophy decades ago. She has played a seminal role in the evolution of modernism in the context of architecture, landscape architecture, and planning. Ms. Hahn Oberlander is a champion and continual advocate for landscape architecture, a teacher, and is considered a leader by several generations of landscape architects in Canada and abroad.
In addition to the Governor General’s Medal in Landscape Architecture, Ms. Hahn Oberlander has been honoured with many other prestigious awards. She received the Order of Canada in 1990 and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2009, Canada’s highest civilian honour for outstanding achievement and service to the nation. She is a Fellow of the Canadian and the American Societies of Landscape Architects. In 2013, she was awarded the American Society of Landscape Architects Medal, the highest honour the American Society of Landscape Architects may bestow upon a landscape architect whose lifetime achievements and contributions to the profession have had a unique and lasting impact on the welfare of the public and the environment. In addition, Ms. Hahn Oberlander was awarded the Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award in 2011 from the International Federation of Landscape Architects. This award recognizes a living landscape architect whose lifetime achievements and contributions have had a unique and lasting impact on the welfare of society and the environment, and on the promotion of the profession of landscape architecture. These many awards, as well as 10 honorary doctorate degrees from Canadian and U.S. universities, honour Ms. Oberlander’s projects which span Canada and the globe. Most recently, she was also honored with the Margolese National Prize for Living.
When asked about her work, Ms. Hahn Oberlander describes it humbly as: “an evolving experiment…the art of the possible.” For more than 60 years, the creator of this “art of the possible” has been an influential leader in building places and policy that support an intimate and beautiful connection with the natural world. In her designs, Ms. Hahn Oberlander considers the humanity and ecology of a place in turn and together, and does not separate practical use from experiential beauty.
Ms. Hahn Oberlander will receive her award at a ceremony to be held at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on September 20th, 2016.