B.C. landscape architecture pioneer Cornelia Oberlander dead at 99

“Cornelia Oberlander was a real icon of our Jewish group.”

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Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, a pioneer within the subject of panorama structure, whose out of doors designs are as ubiquitous as they’re adored in her adopted residence of Vancouver, died Saturday on the age of 99.

Her legacy of design contains such iconic contributions to Vancouver’s public areas because the log seating on town’s seashores (1963), Robson Sq. (1983), the Vancouver Public Library Central Department rooftop backyard (1995) and the VanDusen Botanical Backyard Customer Centre (2011).

She additionally designed landscapes for the Vancouver Basic Hospital burn unit backyard, UBC’s Museum of Anthropology and the C.Ok. Choi Constructing.

“Cornelia was a large within the subject of panorama structure, an inspiring and pioneering determine identified for her extraordinary creativity, braveness and imaginative and prescient,” mentioned Charles A. Birnbaum, president and CEO of The Cultural Panorama Basis. “Her legacy of constructed work and affect demonstrates how one individual can form a occupation that has world impression and significance.”

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In a press release launched Sunday, the Metropolis of Vancouver introduced it has posthumously bestowed the Freedom of the Metropolis Award, town’s highest honour, on Oberlander.

“Cornelia Oberlander was one among Vancouver’s most famous Jewish residents, and through Jewish Heritage Month this Might, we honour her excellent accomplishments in bringing world-class panorama design to Canada, and to Vancouver specifically,” Mayor Kennedy Stewart mentioned in a launch. “On behalf of council, I prolong my deepest sympathies to her household and pals. Might her reminiscence be a blessing.”

The award was authorized by metropolis council on Might 18, days earlier than Oberlander’s demise.

Famed landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander died on Saturday.
Famed panorama architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander died on Saturday. Photograph by ian lindsay /Vancouver Solar

Oberlander, who escaped Nazi Germany when she was 18 and fled to the US through England, was educated at Smith School after which Harvard College, the place she graduated from its Graduate College of Design in 1947.

“I didn’t wish to depart Harvard, I didn’t wish to depart Boston, however my mom mentioned, ‘You went to Harvard with a view to take the concepts that you simply gathered there into the world. So if you happen to don’t, you’ll crumble if you happen to keep there.’ So my nice luck actually is that I married Peter, moved out right here (Vancouver), and will promote the numerous concepts in a brand new place, which I may by no means have executed in some other place. So there’s nice fortune in coming right here,” she mentioned in 2008 interview with The Cultural Panorama Basis.

She and her husband, architect Peter Oberlander, arrived in Vancouver in 1953 — and the look of town would quickly change endlessly

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“They didn’t have a clue about what panorama structure was, all the pieces was English Gardens. And so they couldn’t imagine {that a} panorama architect would eliminate all this. I gave a lecture to the Backyard Membership, which was an utter flop, as a result of I talked about design and about summary design, they usually didn’t wish to hear it. So the English perennial border prevailed, and over time it modified a bit. However there’s nonetheless loads to alter,” Oberlander mentioned.

Peter, who established UBC’s College of Neighborhood and Regional Planning, died in 2008 on the age of 86.

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In 2019, TCLF established the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander Worldwide Panorama Structure Prize, the primary and solely prize in panorama structure to incorporate a US$100,000 financial award. The inaugural winner shall be introduced later this 12 months.

“Cornelia Oberlander was a beautiful one that was a frontrunner by instance. She was a steward who graciously shared her time and experience to rising professionals, allied organizations and the general public,” mentioned Tara Culham, government director of the B.C. Society of Panorama Architects.

When requested about her work in 2001, Oberlander informed Vancouver Solar columnist Daphne Bramham that her landscapes don’t include a particular signature or defining type.

“My gardens aren’t comparable,” mentioned Oberlander. “Every idea is for every particular use and all the pieces needs to be stunning. …

“You possibly can’t select my gardens. I believe myself into an individual’s wants and desires. I’ve to understand how the skin area is getting used. Then I work with an idea and the ideas are pushed by the concept that folks wish to be surrounded by nature … it’s in our genes.”

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander was made an Officer of the Order of Canada by Governor General Michaëlle Jean in 2010.
Cornelia Hahn Oberlander was made an Officer of the Order of Canada by Governor Basic Michaëlle Jean in 2010. Photograph by PAT MCGRATH /THE OTTAWA CITIZEN

Oberlander’s nomination for the Freedom of the Metropolis Award was supported by the Jewish Federation of Vancouver, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia in honour of Jewish Heritage Month.

“Cornelia Oberlander was a real icon of our Jewish group. The Freedom of the Metropolis Award honours Cornelia’s lifetime of accomplishments in a month that celebrates the impression that Jewish Canadians have had on society as an entire,” mentioned Ezra S. Shanken, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Vancouver.

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In line with town’s web site, Vancouver’s Freedom of the Metropolis Award is reserved for people or teams who’ve gained nationwide and worldwide acclaim within the arts, enterprise, or philanthropy, and who has introduced recognition to Vancouver via their achievements.

Oberlander was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2010.

“Panorama structure has misplaced not solely a terrific designer however an excellent public citizen with a deep dedication to our shared surroundings,” mentioned Dr. John Beardsley, an artwork historian who serves because the curator of the TCLF Oberland Prize. “Fortunately, her legacy will reside on within the prize that bears her identify.”

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sbrown@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/Browniescott

With information from Daphne Bramham

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