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A panel discussion with Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, Charles Birnbaum, Amery Calvelli, Susan Herrington, Eva Matsuzaki, and Dr. Hilary Letwin.

About this Event

Live Online Panel Discussion

Presented by the West Coast Modern League

In partnership with the West Vancouver Art Museum

Sunday, January 24, 2021 | 3:00pm PST

FREE EVENT with Registration. Suggested $5-10 Donation.

This talk will be presented live and recorded through Zoom

Please join us as we celebrate the work, achievements, and legacy of Landscape Architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander.

On January 24th, the West Coast Modern League with the West Vancouver Art Museum celebrate the visionary Landscape Architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander and the opening of the museum's new exhibition, and launch of the accompanying publication, entitled Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Genius Loci. This event will feature a live online panel discussion with Cornelia Hahn Oberlander and panelists Charles Birnbaum, Amery Calvelli, Susan Herrington, and Eva Matsuzaki, moderated by Dr. Hilary Letwin.

Since establishing her Vancouver-based practice in 1953, Cornelia has practiced landscape architecture with one goal in mind: “to design outdoor spaces for the enjoyment of all in our urban environment.”[1] With this, her work has since explored a broad range of programs including urban parks, playgrounds, cultural spaces, social housing, and private residences. A key figure in the development of West Coast Modernism, some of her most notable local landscapes include the Provincial Law Courts and Robson Square (1982), the Museum of Anthropology at UBC (1976), Eppich House II (1979), Library Square (1995), and the Visitor’s Centre Rooftop, VanDusen Botanical Garden (2011). Further afield, she was responsible for landscape designs at the Children’s Creative Centre Playground, Canadian Federal Pavilion, Expo 67 (1967), Canadian Chancery in Washington, DC (1989), National Gallery of Canada (1990), and the Northwest Territories Legislative Building (1994).

Cornelia has received international acclaim in the field of landscape architecture. Among numerous other awards and honours, she is a Companion of the Order of Canada, Member of the Order of British Columbia, and a Fellow of both the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects and the American Society of Landscape Architects. With a design process regarded for intensive research, innovation, and stewardship for the natural environment, Cornelia’s impact in the realms of landscape architecture is far-reaching and unparalleled.

[1] Oberlander, C.H. (2021). Forging the Way. In Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Genius Loci (pp. 14-18). West Vancouver, BC: West Vancouver Art Museum. Edmonton, AB: The Art Gallery of Alberta.

The Panelists:

  • Cornelia Hahn Oberlander – Landscape Architect
  • Charles Birnbaum – President, CEO, and Founder, The Cultural Landscape Foundation
  • Amery Calvelli – Adjunct Curator, Poole Centre of Design at the Art Gallery of Alberta
  • Susan Herrington – Professor and Chair, Landscape Program at UBC SALA
  • Dr. Hilary Letwin – Curator, West Vancouver Art Museum
  • Eva Matsuzaki – Architect

The West Coast Modern League gratefully acknowledges the partnership of the West Vancouver Art Museum and the generous support of the Audain Art Museum.

Registration Required:

Registration will be required to receive a link to join the event. The link and instructions on how to access the live Zoom presentation will be sent closer to the date of the event to the email address registered. The event is free but we ask that you please consider a $5-10 suggested donation. All funds raised will be allocated to this event and to funding the League's future public programming.

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Meet the Panelists:

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander was born in 1921 in Germany and moved to the United States in 1939. She studied at Smith College in Massachusetts and, in 1944, continued her studies at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. After completing her studies in 1947, she designed her first projects in New York City and Philadelphia. In 1953, she moved to Vancouver and undertook a number of residential, social housing, and playground projects. From the early 1970s, she began collaborating with Arthur Erickson, working with him on the Robson Square Provincial Government Complex and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. She continues to create designs for universities, governments, schools, and private residences.

Oberlander has been the recipient of many honours, including the Companion of the Order of Canada and the highest award from both the American Society of Landscape Architects and the International Federation of Landscape Architects. The Cultural Landscape Foundation has recently announced the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize. The Oberlander Prize, along with a monetary award of $100,000 USD, will be conferred biennially, beginning in 2021.

Charles Birnbaum

Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR, is the president, CEO, and founder of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). Prior to creating TCLF, Birnbaum spent fifteen years as the coordinator of the National Park Service Historic Landscape Initiative (HLI) and a decade in private practice in New York City, with a focus on landscape preservation and urban design.

Amery Calvelli

Amery Calvelli works to advance the public connection with architecture and design. Since 2018, as Adjunct Curator, Poole Centre of Design at the Art Gallery of Alberta, she has curated and co-curated exhibitions including: Cul-de-Sac, From Here Convening Place, another Landscape show and Nests for the End of the World. Co-founding the non-profit Design Talks Institute seven years ago, she produces public events, small exhibitions, workshops and an online publication with the aim of building community around architecture and design.

Susan Herrington

Susan Herrington is Professor and Chair of the Landscape Architecture program at the University of British Columbia. Herrington is a licensed landscape architect in the United States and a Landscape Architect in Canada. Her research concerns design theories of contemporary landscape architecture, including theories regarding children’s landscapes. In 2016, she received the 2016 Anne de Fort-Menares Award for her article, “Restoring a Modern Landscape in the Anthropocene: Cornelia Hahn Oberlander,” on the Friedman Residence. She received a 2015 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize for her book, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Making the Modern Landscape. She has conducted research with funding from the Graham Foundation, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and in Germany with support from the German Academic Exchange and in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a visiting researcher at Harvard University. She is author of Landscape Theory in Design and she is currently writing a book on the Canadian-born landscape architect and city planner, Christopher Tunnard.

Dr. Hilary Letwin

Hilary Letwin holds a PhD from The Johns Hopkins University in Art History, and MPhil from the Warbury Institute, University of London and a BA from Bryn Mawr College. Her recent exhibitions and publications include Saints, Sinners and Souvenirs: Italian Masterworks on Paper, Design for Living: West Coast Modern Homes Revisited, and Talk of the Town: Molly Lamb Boback. She has worked as Assistant Curator at the West Vancouver Art Museum since 2018.

Eva Matsuzaki

Now a retired architect, Eva Matsuzaki, was born in Riga, Latvia, then immigrated to the United States in the wake of World War ll. She graduated from Cornell University in 1966 with a B.Arch., one of two women in a class of forty. After six years of working in Connecticut, Eva and her husband, Kiyoshi Matsuzaki, moved to Vancouver, B.C. There she worked at Arthur Erickson Architects for a decade before forming Matsuzaki Wright Architects with Jim Wright. Eva was a founder of Women in Architecture Vancouver, sat on numerous civic and architectural committees and boards. In 1998-1999 she was the first female president of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

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