The first words on the website of OLIN, Laurie Olin’s firm, read, “Landscape requires stewardship.” It is this sense of responsibility, connection and a deliberate integration between cultural and natural worlds that has made Olin one of the world’s best-known landscape designers.
With increased attention to sustainability and environmental concerns, landscape architects now lead teams of urban planners and architects in developing new outdoor space and reconfiguring existing designs. OLIN is at the forefront of this movement, with completed projects across the country and in Europe.
From vision to realization, Olin has guided many of OLIN’s signature projects, which range from the Washington Monument Grounds in Washington, D.C., to Bryant Park in New York City.
His recent projects include the new Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and Simon and Helen Director Park in Portland, Ore.
Closer to home, Olin was the designer of the University of Virginia’s Betsy and John Casteen Arts Grounds.
Negotiating the tension between the poetry of landscape and landscape architecture as a useful art, he has posited a “circular iteration” between the two; a holistic and complex dialectic charging everything from the shape of a curb to the fractal nature of a city.
“Laurie Olin is one of the most revered landscape architects of our time,” said Kim Tanzer, dean of U.Va.’s School of Architecture. “He is an inspiring teacher, an extraordinarily talented and prolific designer, and an international thought leader in environmental design. From his drawings and writings to his built projects, he has set an amazing example for several generations of landscape architects. We are thrilled he will become the 2013 Thomas Jefferson Medalist in Architecture.”
Olin studied civil engineering at the University of Alaska and pursued architecture at the University of Washington, where Richard Haag encouraged him to focus on landscape. He is currently Practice Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has taught for 40 years, and is former chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University.
He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Society of Landscape Architects, a Guggenheim Fellow, an American Academy of Rome Fellow, and the recipient of the 1998 Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is also the recipient of the 2011 American Society of Landscape Architects Medal, the society’s highest award for a landscape architect.