The GSD remembers Cornelia Hahn Oberlander BLA ’47 who passed away at age 99 on May 22, 2021. Oberlander was a pioneer in the field of sustainable design, an early proponent of green roofs, and a champion of collaboration. She once said that her dream is “green cities with green buildings where rural and urban activities live in harmony.”

A member of the class of 1947, Oberlander was one of the first women admitted to the GSD. She described herself as “elated” upon receiving her acceptance letter from Dean Joseph Hudnut and recalls sharing desk space with Lawrence Halprin BLA ’44, who became a good friend. She was taught by Walter Gropius, a leader of the Bauhaus movement. While at the GSD, she met her late husband H. Peter Oberlander MCP ’47, PhD ’57 at a picnic.

Oberlander shared with the Harvard Alumni Association in 2014, “Landscape architecture is a fabulous field that is more in demand than ever,” she says. “We need to take care of our environment. We have to have places to play for children. We have to have places for recreation. It means having a corner in the city, and a bench, and a tree to sit and contemplate away from a very busy world.”

~Anita Berrizbeitia, FAAR, MLA ’87, Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture

You can read more about Cornelia Hahn Oberlander’s life and legacy as published by the New York Times.

Photo below: Cornelia Hahn Oberlander BLA ’47 (center) at a GSD event in 2014 with Peter Walker MLA ’57 (second from the right) and Gary Hilderbrand MLA ’85 (far right).