|Laurie Olin, FASLA, is one of the leading figures in the profession—an influential practitioner, educator, author, and prolific draftsman with a career of impressive highlights that stretches more than 40 years. At a White House ceremony earlier this year, he received the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government. Now, Olin is the subject of the latest online Pioneers of American Landscape Design® Oral History produced by the Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF).
The Olin oral history, the 10th in TCLF’s ongoing series (oral histories are in production about Nicholas Quennell, FASLA, and Richard Haag, FASLA), reveals much about Olin and his event-filled life. The project, shot June 1 to 6, 2012, contains 29 segments totaling more than 90 minutes and includes interviews at the OLIN studio in Philadelphia and on location at his projects at Battery Park City, Bryant Park, and Columbus Circle in New York City; the University of Pennsylvania campus landscape, Independence Mall, and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia; and the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden and the Washington Monument grounds in Washington, D.C.
The oral history includes his 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, and includes interviews with OLIN partners, among them Dennis McGlade, FASLA; Lucinda Sanders, FASLA; and Susan Weiler, FASLA.
A downloadable transcript of the complete interview is available on the website, as are reflections by Olin’s friends, family, colleagues, collaborators, and coworkers about his life, career, and legacy.
“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,” says Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, TCLF’s 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.”