The National Medal of Arts, conferred by the National Endowment for the Arts and presented by the President of the United States, is the highest honor an American artist or arts patron can receive. For twenty-seven years the prestigious award has recognized the importance of the arts and expressed the nations appreciation for the boundless creative expression of America’s artists. This year it was bestowed upon renowned landscape architect, Laurie Olin—most notably known for his 1988 transformation of New York City’s Bryant Park.
These days Olin, founder and partner of OLIN, an internationally recognized landscape architecture firm based in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, is as busy as ever teaching at The University of Pennsylvania School of Design and traveling to Europe and across the nation, transforming one public landscape at a time. But on July 10th the landscape architect made sure he wore his signature bow tie as he met with President Barack Obama at the White House’s East Room, where he was awarded the high honor. As reported by PlanPhilly, Olin was honored “for his contributions as a preeminent landscape architect. 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.”
The Alaskan-born landscape architect, now 75 years old, is the fourth landscape architect to receive the award since its establishment in 1984. This year’s award was also presented to an array of 11 American artists skilled in different mediums including the likes of filmmaker George Lucas, playwright Tony Kushner, New Orleans pianist Allen Toussaint, and sculptor Ellsworth Kelly.