Image credit: Etta Gerdes, Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly Building, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, 2005. Courtesy of Etta Gerdes.

Image credit: Etta Gerdes, Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly Building, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, 2005. Courtesy of Etta Gerdes.

Cornelia Hahn

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, born in 1921 in Germany, moved to the United States in 1939, and studied at Smith College in Massachusetts. In 1944, she began her studies at Harvard University Graduate School of Design under Walter Gropius, designing her first projects in New York City and at the Citizen’s Council on City Planning in Philadelphia, where she worked as a Community Planner. Early public housing projects included Schuylkill Falls, working with landscape architect Dan Kiley, and Mill Creek Housing, working with Kiley and architect Louis Kahn. In 1953, Oberlander moved to Vancouver, BC with her husband, undertaking a number of municipal projects, including the landscape for Skeena Terrace low rent housing.

1967 saw the launch of her acclaimed Children’s Creative Centre Playground at the International Exposition of 1967 (Expo ’67) in Montreal, a design based on children’s spontaneity and exploration and serving over 300,000 over the duration of the exposition. Over time, Oberlander would design a total of seventy playgrounds in Canada as well as contribute towards establishing a national Task Force on Play. In 1975, her collaboration with Arthur Erickson on Robson Square in Vancouver resulted in an early roof garden, three blocks long, for the Provincial Government Complex. She continues to create designs for universities, governments, schools and private residences, most recently completing her vision for the roof of the Vancouver Public Library, which opened to the public in 2018.

Oberlander is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Medal in Landscape Architecture (2016); named a Companion of the Order of Canada (2017); and recognized as a Fellow of both the Canadian and the American Societies of Landscape Architects. As a testament to Oberlander’s legacy, the Cultural Landscape Foundation recently announced the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize. The Oberlander Prize is the first and only international landscape architecture prize to include a US $100,000 monetary award. The Oberlander Prize will be conferred biennially, beginning in 2021.

Downloadable PDF of Cornelia’s complete biography and curriculum vitae

Author Biographies

Amery Calvelli
Amery Calvelli works to advance the public connection with architecture and design.  Since 2018, as Adjunct Curator, Poole Centre of Design at the Art Gallery of Alberta, she has curated and co-curated exhibitions including: Cul-de-Sac, From Here Convening Place, another Landscape show and Nests for the End of the World. Co-founding the non-profit Design Talks Institute seven years ago, she produces public events, small exhibitions, workshops and an online publication with the aim of building community around architecture and design.

Catherine Crowston
Catherine Crowston is the Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Art Gallery of Alberta, having joined the gallery in 1998. From 1994-1997, Crowston was the Director/Curator of the Walter Phillips Gallery at The Banff Centre (Banff, Alberta) and Editor of the Walter Phillips Gallery Editions. Prior to this, she was Assistant Curator at the Art Gallery of York University, Toronto (1986-1994) and was both an Editor and Chair of the Board of Directors of Fuse Magazine in Toronto (1989-1995). In 2019, Crowston served on the curatorial team for the Canada Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, which featured the work of the Inuit film and video collective ISUMA. In 2016, she was the Commissioner for the Canada Pavilion of the Venice Biennale of Architecture and was Canadian Commissioner for the Sydney Biennale of Contemporary Art in 2002. Under Crowston’s leadership, the Art Gallery of Alberta received two Canadian Museums Association Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Arts Management (2012) and Outstanding Achievement in Exhibitions (2013). She was awarded the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Visual Arts (2002); the City of Edmonton Salute to Excellence Award (2005); and was inducted into the City of Edmonton Cultural Hall of Fame in 2015.

Susan Herrington
Susan Herrington is Professor and Chair of the Landscape Architecture program at the University of British Columbia. Herrington is a licensed landscape architect in the United States and a Landscape Architect in Canada. Her research concerns design theories of contemporary landscape architecture, including theories regarding children’s landscapes. In 2016, she received the 2016 Anne de Fort-Menares Award for her article, “Restoring a Modern Landscape in the Anthropocene: Cornelia Hahn Oberlander,” on the Friedman Residence. She received a 2015 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize for her book, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Making the Modern Landscape. She has conducted research with funding from the Graham Foundation, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and in Germany with support from the German Academic Exchange and in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a visiting researcher at Harvard University. She is author of Landscape Theory in Design and she is currently writing a book on the Canadian-born landscape architect and city planner, Christopher Tunnard.

Hilary Letwin
Hilary Letwin holds a PhD from The Johns Hopkins University in Art History, an MPhil from the Warburg Institute, University of London and a BA from Bryn Mawr College. Her recent exhibitions and publications include Saints, Sinners and Souvenirs: Italian Masterworks on Paper, Design for Living: West Coast Modern Homes Revisited, and Talk of the Town: Molly Lamb Boback. She has worked as Assistant Curator at the West Vancouver Art Museum since 2018.

Eva Matsuzaki
Now a retired architect, Eva Matsuzaki, was born in Riga, Latvia, then immigrated to the United States in the wake of World War ll. She graduated from Cornell University in 1966 with a B.Arch., one of two women in a class of forty. After six years of working in Connecticut, Eva and her husband, Kiyoshi Matsuzaki, moved to Vancouver, B.C. There she worked at Arthur Erickson Architects for a decade before forming Matsuzaki Wright Architects with Jim Wright. Eva was a founder of Women in Architecture Vancouver, sat on numerous civic and architectural committees and boards. In 1998-1999 she was the first female president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

Darrin Morrison
Darrin Morrison is the Director/Curator at the West Vancouver Art Museum. He has worked in public galleries and museums in Canada for over 30 years. He has curated multiple exhibitions and written about art and design for many books and catalogues. Recent exhibitions and publications include Oh Nightingale: Parviz Tanavoli, Design for Living: West Coast Modern Homes Revisited and Landon Mackenzie: Recollect(s).

Martien de Vletter
Martien de Vletter is the Associate Director of the Collection at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal since 2012. From 2008 to 2012 she was the publisher of Sun Architecture in Amsterdam. From 1997 to 2008 she worked at the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam (now The New Institute) of which the last 5 years in the position of Chief Curator. She published on architecture and urbanism of the 1970s in The Netherlands (The Critical Seventies) and several titles on architecture and urbanism in Indonesia.