Laurie Olin bigraphy, stories - American landscape architect

Laurie Olin : biography

1938 -

Laurie Olin (b. 1938 in Marshfield, Wisconsin) is an American landscape architect. He has worked on everything from private residences to large public parks. Olin grew up in Alaska, and earned his degree in Architecture from the University of Washington in Seattle, where he was mentored under Richard Haag. After graduating he worked for offices in Seattle, New York City, and London. In 1976 he became a professor for the University of Pennsylvania, where he offered courses on the design of environments. Ten years later he was head chair of the landscape architecture program at Harvard University. After serving as chair at Harvard, Olin returned to Penn where he continues to be Practice Professor of Landscape Architecture.

Olin is the founding partner of the landscape architecture and urban design firm OLIN. The firm received the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Landscape Design in 2008, and in 2010 was on the winning team in the competition to design the new United States Embassy in London with architects KieranTimberlake.

Olin is a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, an American Academy of Rome Fellow, an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the 1999 Wyck-Strickland Award recipient, and a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). Olin won the Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture in 1972, was the recipient of the 1998 Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was recently inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Olin has written widely on the history and theory of architecture and landscape, receiving the Bradford Williams medal for best writing on Landscape Architecture. Olin co-authored La Foce: A Garden and Landscape in Tuscany, which includes a historical essay, along with photographs, sketches, and a critical analysis of the early 20th-century garden in Italy. Across the Open Field (2000), is both a memoir and series of essays on the evolution of the English landscape. He is also the author of Transforming the Commonplace (1996) and Vizcaya: An American Villa and Its Makers (2006, with Witold Rybczynski), on James Deering's mansion in Coconut Grove, Florida.


  • OLIN: Placemaking, 2008.
  • Vizcaya: An American Villa and its Members, with Witold Rybczynski, 2007.
  • La Foce: A Garden and Landscape in Tuscany, with Benedetta Origo et al., 2001.
  • Across the Open Field: Essays Drawn from English Landscapes, 2000.
  • Transforming the Common Place: Selections from Laurie Olin's Sketchbook, 1996.
  • Breath on the Mirror: Seattle's Skid Road Community, 1973.


  • ASLA Merit Award, ARCO Research Center, 1984
  • Progressive Architecture Magazine Design Award, Battery Park City, 1985
  • Urban Landscape Institute Award for Excellence for Public Projects, Bryant Park, 1996
  • ASLA Landmark Award, Battery Park City, 2003
  • ASLA Design Honor Award, the J. Paul Getty Center, 2003
  • ASLA Award of Excellence, The Heart of the Park at Hermann Park, 2005
  • Mid-Atlantic Construction Magazine Park/Landscape Award of Merit, the Washington Monument, 2005
  • AIA Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design, the University of British Columbia, 2006
  • ASLA Landscape Architecture Firm Award (awarded to OLIN firm), 2006
  • ASLA General Design Award of Honor, Columbus Circle, 2006
  • Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Urban Design Award, the University of British Columbia, 2006
  • ASLA General Design Award Of Honor, the Washington Monument, 2008
  • Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award (awarded to OLIN firm), 2008
  • Urban Land Institute Award of Excellence, Comcast Building (awarded to OLIN firm), 2009
  • Building Institute's Bybee Prize, 2010
  • ASLA Landmark Award, Bryant Park (awarded to OLIN firm), 2010
  • ASLA Medal, 2011
  • Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture, 2013

Notable projects


  • Bishopsgate, London, England
  • Brancusi Ensemble, Târgu Jiu, Romania
  • Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany (with architect Peter Eisenman)

United States

  • Director Park, Portland, Oregon
  • 1 Memorial Drive, campus of the headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
  • ARCO corporate headquarters, La Palma, California
  • Atlantic Yards, open space around development, Brooklyn, New York
  • Battery Park City, New York
  • Bryant Park, New York
  • Columbus Circle, New York
  • J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles, California
  • Hudson Yards, New York NY
  • Mill River Park & Greenway, Stamford, Connecticut
  • Pershing Square, Los Angeles, California
  • Robert F. Wagner Park, New York
  • University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Campus Development Plan)
  • Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.
  • Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio
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Living octopus

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