Laurie Olin delivered the Peter Schaudt Lecture as part of the College of Architecture Dean's Lecture Series on Wed., Nov 16, 2016 at 6 p.m. in S. R. Crown Hall.
Olin is an educator, author, and one of the most renowned landscape architects practicing today. He is Principal at OLIN, a Landscape Architecture, Urban Design and Planning firm founded in Philadelphia.
From concept to realization, he has guided many of OLIN’s signature projects, from the Washington Monument grounds in Washington, DC to Bryant Park in New York City. The firm partners are advocates for the artful creation and transformation of the public realm, and practice in a range of scales, including ecological and regional systems, urban districts, campuses, civic parks, plazas, and intimate gardens. Olin and his firm have designed many notable projects, among them: Columbus Circle in New York, and in Philadelphia a range of work including Independence Mall within the Independence National Historical Park; the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Logan Square; Rodin Museum; Barnes Foundation; and Waterworks Park. Campus design has been a mainstay of OLIN, and includes projects for the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University and projects at Yale, Stanford, MIT, University of Virginia, the American Academy in Rome, Cornell and the University of California, San Francisco, Mission Bay.
Olin co-authored the book OLIN: Placemaking, published by Monacelli Press, which features a selection of the OLIN studio's most celebrated landscape architecture, urban design and planning projects. He also authored an essay titled "More Than Just Wriggling Your Wrist" for the book Drawing/Thinking: Confronting an Electronic Age published by Routledge.
Olin studied civil engineering at University of Alaska and received a B.Arch. from the University of Washington in 1961. After graduation, Olin worked for Seattle architect Fred Bassetti, and Edward Larrabee Barnes in New York.
Teaching has been an integral part of Olin’s career; he began in the landscape architecture department at the University of Washington with Rich Haag in 1970-1972. From 1982-1987, Olin was the chairman of the landscape architecture program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. At Harvard, Olin created collaborative studios with the architecture department. In 1992 he was Thomas Jefferson Visiting Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia. In 2002 the University of Texas at Austin appointed him Ruth Carter Stevenson Chair in Landscape Architecture, during which time he helped establish a Master of Landscape Architecture program. In 2002 Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, invited Olin to be the first dean of its landscape architecture department. Over a period of three years he chaired an international committee of landscape architects who helped formulate a graduate program in landscape. Currently, Olin is practice professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.
Olin's awards, honors and prizes, include: American Academy of Arts and Letters Award; Bybee Prize from the Building Institute; the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Medal, the Society’s highest award for a landscape architect. His redesign of the Washington Monument grounds received the 2008 Design Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. Olin and his five partners received the 2008 Landscape Design Award from the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. In 2013, President Barack Obama presented Olin with the 2012 National Medal of Arts, for "his acute sense of harmony and balance between nature and design."