Cornelia Hahn Oberlander fonds

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander fonds

Part of


  • Cornelia Hahn Oberlander (archive creator)


Cornelia Hahn Oberlander fonds

Dates of creation



  • archives

Level of archival description


Extent and Medium

  • 11 l.m. of textual records
  • 6368 drawings
  • 4091 photographic materials
  • 35 panels
  • 12 sound recordings
  • 5 printing plates
  • 4 moving images
  • 4 CDs
  • 2 graphic materials
  • 1 floppy disk
  • 1 model

Scope and Content

The Cornelia Hahn Oberlander fonds documents Oberlander's professional activities as a landscape architect. It contains over 203 projects that span from 1954 to 2009 predominantly in Canada and in the United States, but also in Germany. The fonds is a complete record of Oberlander's work, and comprises her playground projects, roof gardens, and public space landscapes as well as private residence landscape designs. The fonds also includes adminstrative records from her practice and her professionnal engagements, and research material for her landscaping projects, publications, and lectures. The fonds includes material related to Cornelia Hahn Oberlander's participation on an exhibition of her own work.

The fonds chiefly contains material related to Oberlander's landscape projects such as drawings (conceptual drawings, design development drawings, presentation drawings and panels, and working drawings), including many original work by Oberlander, and also project files of textual documents and photographs. The fonds also comprises office records from Oberlander's practice, reference and research material such a small publications and press clippings on playgrounds and drawings and notes from land her studies at Harvard University.

Reference Number



The fonds is arranged in four series:

AP075.S1 Landscape architecture projects

AP075.S2 Exhibitions

AP075.S3 Professional activities and office records

AP075.S4 Reference and research material

Biographical notes

Cornelia Hahn (b. June 20, 1921, Mulheim, Germany) fled Berlin with her widowed mother in 1939 to settle near Wolfboro, New Hampshire, USA. She attended Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts from 1941–44 before studying under Walter Gropius at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, graduating with a degree in Landscape Architecture in 1947. In 1950, Orberlander was hired as a community planner with the Citizen's Council on City Planning (CCCP) in Philadelphia. Afterwards Oberlander worked with landscape architect Dan Kiley in Vermont, and in Philadelphia from 1951–53, for landscape architect James Rose on social housing developments as well as with architects Louis Kahn, and Oskar Stonorov. She married fellow Harvard graduate H. Peter Oberlander (1922-2008) in 1953 and moved to Vancouver where her husband was charged with founding the Community and Regional Planning Department at the University of British Columbia (UBC). At this point Cornelia Hahn Oberlander opened her own practice as a landscape architect.

Until the early 1970s,Oberlander designed primarily children’s playgrounds, private residential gardens, and landscapes for social housing projects such as MacLean Park and Skeena Terrace in Vancouver (1957). After returning to Vancouver in 1974 from a three-year stay in Ottawa (her husband had served in the Federal Ministry of State for Urban Affairs), Oberlander was invited by architect Arthur Erickson to contribute to the planning of the Robson Square and Provincial Courthouse complex in Vancouver (1979). Further collaborations with Erickson and others on important public buildings soon followed. With Erickson she worked on many of his most renowned projects - the Museum of Anthropology at UBC (1976), the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. (1989), California Plaza, Los Angeles (1989) and the Liu Centre for Global Relations at UBC (1998). For architect Moshe Safdie, Oberlander designed the Taiga (Arctic) Garden for the National Gallery of Canada (1989), and landscapes for the Ottawa City Hall addition (1991), and the roof garden and plazas for the Vancouver Public Library (1995).

Major projects involving Oberlander in the 1990s included the United Nations Peacekeeping Monument (with the Vancouver team of Richard Henriquez architect and sculptor Jack Harman) completed in Ottawa in 1992 as well as landscapes for the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly Building, Yellowknife (Matsuzaki / Wright Architects, 1991–94), the ecologically innovative C.K. Choi Institute of Asian Research at UBC (Matsuzaki / Wright Architects, 1996), a project that committed Hahn Oberlander to environmental planning and sustainable development in urban contexts, and the landscape master plan for Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts (Rolland/Towers, 1997).

Major projects completed in the 2000s include Liu Centre for International Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Architectura/Arthur Erickson Architects, 2000), Jim Everett Memorial Park, University Endowment Lands, Vancouver, British Columbia (2001)¸ Holly Park III, Seattle, Washington (Solomon ETC Architects, 2005) a mixed-income housing community on 36 acres with central park, and the courtyard gardens, and roof gardens for the Canadian Embassy, Berlin, Germany (Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects, 2005).

Current works in progress include the renovation of 1960s landscape of Buchanan Building, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Busby Perkins Will Architects), renovation of Provincial Government Complex and Law Courts at Robson Square, Vancouver, British Columbia (Omicron Architecture with Arthur Erickson Architect and Phillips Farevaag Smallenberg), the atrium of Telus Building, Vancouver, British Columbia (Peter Busby Architects), and New York Times Building, New York (Renzo Piano Architect with HM White Site Architects).

Oberlander was awarded the Order of Canada in 1990, and is now widely considered Canada’s premier landscape architect.

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander’s work was presented in the exhibition, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Ecological Landscapes, at the Canadian Centre for Architecture from 11 May to 30 July 2006. A catalogue with photographs by Etta Gerdes accompanied the exhibition, Bilder kanadischer Landschaftsarchitektur/ Picturing Landscape Architecture, edited by Mechtild Manus and Lisa Rochon and published by the Goethe-Institut (Montréal) and Callwey, Munich.

Conditions governing access

  • Digital documents (CDs and a floppy disk) contained in the fonds are not processed and therefore aren't available for consultation.
  • Access by appointment only.

Conditions governing reproduction

  • No material may be reproduced for use in any exhibition, catalogue or other publication, printed or electronic, without the prior consultation and consent of the CCA Archivist. Contact the CCA for copyright information and permission to reproduce (reproductions@cca.qc.ca).

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

  • Gift of Cornelia Hahn Oberlander.

Custodial history

The Cornelia Hahn Oberlander's fonds was acquired from Cornelia Hahn Oberlander by the CCA in 1997. The material was transferred in incraments between 1996 and 2012 from Oberlander's residence and office.

Archivist's note

  • The Cornelia Hahn Oberlander fonds was arranged and described in various phases between 2002 and 2012. From March to September 2018, the finding aid was updated and processing was completed by Catherine Jacob.

Credit line

When citing the collection as a whole, use the citation:
Cornelia Hahn Oberlander fonds
Collection Centre Canadien d'Architecture/
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal;
Don de Cornelia Hahn Oberlander/
Gift of Cornelia Hahn Oberlander
When citing specific collection material, please refer to the object’s specific credit line.

Language of material

English, with some material in German.

Related units of description

  • Cornelia Hahn Oberlander often worked on landscape projects related to buildings designed by Arthur Erickson. See Arthur Erickson fonds (AP022) for more records related to these projects.

Sign up to get news from us

Email address
First name
Last name
By signing up you agree to receive our newsletter and communications about CCA activities. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, consult our privacy policy or contact us.

Thank you for signing up. You'll begin to receive emails from us shortly.

We’re not able to update your preferences at the moment. Please try again later.

You’ve already subscribed with this email address. If you’d like to subscribe with another, please try again.

This email was permanently deleted from our database. If you’d like to resubscribe with this email, please contact us

Please complete the form below to buy:
[Title of the book, authors]
ISBN: [ISBN of the book]
Price [Price of book]

First name
Last name
Address (line 1)
Address (line 2) (optional)
Postal code
Email address
Phone (day) (optional)

Thank you for placing an order. We will contact you shortly.

We’re not able to process your request at the moment. Please try again later.

Folder ()

Your folder is empty.

Please complete this form to make a request for consultation. A copy of this list will also be forwarded to you.

Your contact information
First name:
Last name:
Phone number:
Notes (optional):
We will contact you to set up an appointment. Please keep in mind that your consultation date will be based on the type of material you wish to study. To prepare your visit, we'll need:
  • — At least one week for primary sources (prints and drawings, photographs, archival documents, etc.)
  • — At least twenty-four hours for secondary sources (books, periodicals, vertical files, etc.)