The Cultural Landscape Foundation recently launched its newest documentary as part of the ongoing Oral History series, this time focusing on the ideas and career of Laurie Olin, a recipient of the National Medal of the Arts and one of the greatest landscape architects of our time. Olin's influential work as a practitioner, educator and author over the past forty years has helped to guide the future of landscape architecture and shape urban life around the world.
Shot in 29 segments totaling more than 90 minutes, the documentary is multiple interviews in which Olin discusses his philosophy, life, and influences. Jumping from the OLIN studio in Philadelphia to projects at Battery Park City, Bryant Park, and Columbus Circle in New York City, the oral history includes Olin’s study and work at the University of Washington with Richard Haag, fellowships and travel in England and Italy, his professorship at the University of Pennsylvania and other significant milestones. The video also includes interviews with OLIN partners, from Lucinda Sanders to Susan Weiler and Dennis McGlade.
The series is an outgrowth of the Pioneers of American Landscape Design Project, formatted to examine each designer’s personal and professional history, their overall design philosophy and how that approach was carried out in their most emblematic projects. Richly edited, the video segments include never before seen archival footage, new photography, and on‐location videography.
“Laurie Olin is a towering and enormously influential figure in the landscape architecture profession and one of its most esteemed practitioners – an erudite thought leader, a terrific designer, and a compelling speaker,” said Charles A. Birnbaum, TCLF founder and president. “When Laurie discusses his work and influences we all go on an extraordinary and revelatory voyage that touches on fascinating moments in history, literature, art, music and design – there’s no one quite like him.”
A downloadable transcript of the complete interview is available here, as are reflections by Olin’s friends, family, colleagues, collaborators and co-workers about his life, career and legacy.
Laurie Olin is currently a professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and is the former chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the recipient of the 1998 Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Design Medal from the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2005. Olin is also the author of many books and has written extensively on the history and theory of landscape design.
The Cultural Landscape Foundation is a 15-year-old non-profit foundation that provides people with the ability to see, understand and value landscape architecture and its practitioners, in the way many people have learned to do with buildings and their designers. Through its Web site, lectures, outreach and publishing, TCLF broadens the support and understanding for cultural landscapes nationwide to help safeguard our priceless heritage for future generations.