Cornelia Hahn Oberlander (photo © Charles A. Birnbaum, courtesy the Cultural Landscape Foundation)
The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF), a nonprofit, Washington, D.C.-based education and advocacy organization, announced last month that award-winning Vancouver landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander is the namesake of a recently established prize.
The Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize (“Oberlander Prize”), which will be conferred biennially beginning in 2021, is the first and only international landscape architecture prize that includes a $100,000 US award, along with two years of public engagement activities. The naming announcement was made at an event at the Consulate General of Canada in New York City.
The 98-year-old Oberlander has been in practice for more than 70 years. Her notable projects include the New York Times building courtyard (with HMWhite landscape architects and urban designers), the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, the Canadian chancery in Washington, D.C., the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Canadian embassy in Berlin, Robson Square in Vancouver, the Vancouver Public Library, and many others. Oberlander has worked on public housing in the United States and Canada, pioneered playground design with the Children’s Creative Centre at Montreal’s Expo ’67 (and designed 70 other playgrounds), was an early champion of green roofs and, for decades, has advocated for landscape architecture’s leading role in addressing environmental, ecological and social issues and the impact of climate change.
Oberlander is held in high regard both within and beyond her profession, as is reflected in the early results of a campaign to raise $1 million to help endow the Oberlander Prize, with commitments of $10,000 each from and/or on behalf of 100 women, part of a broader campaign to raise $4.5 million. The 100 Women Campaign launched in July 2019 and its website includes information about each of the more than 70 women who have contributed to date.
“It was the consensus of the prize advisory committee, which helped shaped the prize, and TCLF’s board of directors that Oberlander’s inspiring and trailblazing career in the field of landscape architecture exemplifies the critical values and ideals of the prize, and that she is someone who embodies the prize criteria of creativity, courage and vision,” said Charles A. Birnbaum, TCLF’s president and chief executive officer.
In tandem with the naming of the prize, all of Oberlander’s publicly accessible works are being added to TCLF’s What’s Out There landscape database; on June 20, 2021, the centennial of Oberlander’s birth, TCLF will host a What’s Out There Weekend of free, expert-led tours of Oberlander’s landscapes in the United States, Canada and Germany; and an update to TCLF’s 2008 Pioneers Oral History with Oberlander has been produced. More public engagement events will be announced later. See tclf.org/prize.