Cornelia Oberlander, pioneer of British Columbia landscape architecture, deceased at 99 – fr

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Cornelia Oberlander, pioneer of British Columbia landscape architecture, deceased at 99 – fr


“Cornelia Oberlander was a true icon of our Jewish community.”

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Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, a pioneer in the field of landscape architecture, whose exterior designs are as ubiquitous as they are adored in her adopted Vancouver home, died on Saturday at the age of 99.

In a statement released on Sunday, the city of Vancouver announced that it had posthumously awarded the City’s Freedom Prize, the city’s highest honor, to Oberlander.

“Cornelia Oberlander was one of Vancouver’s most renowned Jewish residents, and during Jewish Heritage Month in May, we honor her outstanding accomplishments by bringing world-class landscape design to Canada, and Vancouver in particular.” Mayor Kennedy Stewart said in a statement. “On behalf of the board, I extend my deepest condolences to his family and friends. May his memory be a blessing.

The price was approved by city council on May 18, a few days before the Oberlander’s death.

Famous landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander died on Saturday. Photo par Ian Lindsay /Vancouver Sun.

Oberlander, who fled Nazi Germany at the age of 18 and fled to the United States via England, was educated at Smith College and then Harvard University. She and her husband, architect Peter Oberlander, arrived in Vancouver in 1953.

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Peter, who founded the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia, died in 2008 at the age of 86.

His design legacy includes iconic contributions to Vancouver’s public spaces like the Log Seating on City Beaches (1963), Robson Square (1983), the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch Rooftop Garden (1995) and the VanDusen Botanical Garden Visitor Center (2011)).

She also designed landscapes for the Vancouver General Hospital Burn Unit Garden, the UBC Museum of Anthropology and the CK Choi Building.

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When asked about her work in 2001, Oberlander told Vancouver columnist Sun Daphne Bramham that her landscapes do not come with a signature or distinctive style.

“My gardens are not the same,” Oberlander said. “Each concept is for each specific use and everything must be beautiful. …

“You cannot choose my gardens. I think of myself in the needs and wishes of a person. I need to know how the outdoor space is used. Then I work with a concept and the concepts are driven by the idea that people want to be surrounded by nature… it’s in our genes.

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander was named an Officer of the Order of Canada by Governor General Michaëlle Jean in 2010. Photo de PAT MCGRATH /THE CITIZEN OF OTTAWA

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

“Cornelia Oberlander was a true icon of our Jewish community. The City’s Freedom Award honors Cornelia’s accomplishments during a month that celebrates the impact Jewish Canadians have had on society as a whole, ”said Ezra S. Shanken, Federation CEO Jewish woman in Vancouver.

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

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More soon …

With files from Daphne Bramham



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