Born in 1928 in Burlington, Vermont, Bennett was the first woman to enroll in the mechanical drawing class at her high school, inspired by her father’s work in the construction business. She earned her A.B. in architectural sciences at Radcliffe College in 1949, and completed the first year of an M.Arch. at Harvard Graduate School of Design. Bennett moved to Indianapolis in 1958 and worked with landscape architect Frits Loonsten for four years before becoming the first employee of the firm Browning Day Associates (now Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf). Seeking to balance her time between a career and the care of her four young children, in 1974 Bennett founded her own landscape architecture firm, Claire Bennett Associates. Specializing in large residential and commercial projects, Claire Bennett Associates’ work was featured in publications locally and nationally, including Town & Country magazine. The firm contributed to the design of many major sites throughout Indiana, including the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Canal Walk, and White River State Park. In 1992 Joann Green joined the firm as partner and it was renamed Landstory.
In 1978 Bennett was elected president of the Indiana Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (INASLA), and from 1990 to 1991 she served as the Society’s national president. Since 2003, the INASLA has presented an annual Claire Bennett Legacy Award. In 1995 Bennett was appointed to the National Urban Forestry advisory council by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. She was the first woman president of the Harvard Club, regional director of the Harvard Alumni and Radcliffe College Alumnae Associations, and received the 1996 Harvard Alumni Association Award. Since her retirement in 1997, Bennett has divided her time among Indiana, Florida, and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Bennett was named a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1984.