On July 8, a dozen men and women gathered in the East Room of the White House to receive the 2012 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama. The recipients, ranging from painter Ellsworth Kelly to New Orleans musician Alain Toussaint, had all made lasting impressions on American culture. But it is fair to say that only one of them could see an instance of his legacy by merely glancing out a well-chosen window of the presidential residence. That would have been Laurie Olin, a longtime Practice Professor of Landscape Architecture in the School of Design, who redesigned the grounds of the Washington Monument 10 years ago.
Olin, the founding partner of a design firm that bears his name, has been affiliated with Penn since 1974 [“Mr Olin’s Neighborhood,” July|Aug 2007]. His landscape designs have influenced the modern development of the University’s campus, as well as public spaces ranging from Bryant Park in New York to the J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles.
Obama cited Olin for “his acute sense of harmony and balance between nature and design.”—T.P.