One of the most decorated landscape architects in the nation received a high honor today. In a ceremony at the White House's East Room, President Barack Obama awarded Laurie Olin, Hon. AIA, and eleven other figures with the 2012 National Medal of Arts. Olin is the fourth landscape architect to receive the National Medal of Arts, and only the tenth architect to be so honored.
Olin's eponymous firm received the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Landscape Design in 2008. In 2010, Olin and architects KieranTimberlake were named as the winning team in a bid to design the U.S. Embassy in London. Olin—both the firm and the founding partner—have received numerous other awards. Olin the man won the American Society of Landscape Architects Medal in 2011; Olin the firm won the ASLA Landscape Architecture Firm Award in 2006.
The White House citation says, "Renowned for his acute sense of harmony and balance between nature and design, Mr. Olin has dedicated his energy to shaping many iconic spaces around the world and to educating new leaders in his art."
Among Olin's many noteworthy landscapes are Battery Park City, Bryant Park, and Columbus Circle in New York; the J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles; and the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.
Critics for The Washington Post contributed to a report alleging that the National Medal of Arts awards are politicized. That report, penned by Marc Fisher, spared Olin the scrutiny afforded for his fellow winners, including Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner, Star Wars maestro George Lucas, and Tijuana Brass trumpeter Herb Alpert.
The full list of winners is here.