Born in Poland and raised in Havana, Cuba, and Buffalo, New York, Dattner attended the Architectural Association in London from 1957 to 1958 and received his B.A. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1960. He served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after graduation. In 1964, he founded the firm Dattner Architects (initially Richard Dattner & Partners Architects) in New York City, and by 1967 his Adventure Playground opened in Central Park, heralding (along with the work of M. Paul Friedberg) a revolution in playground design aimed at providing opportunities for interactive and creative play. Dattner would design five other playgrounds in Central Park, and his firm would grow to complete a range of projects, including parks, housing developments, commercial structures, and large-scale planning efforts. Dattner is the author of the books Design for Play and Civil Architecture: The New Public Infrastructure, and he has taught design at the Cooper Union, the University of Wisconsin, and the City College of New York. He received the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1994, and the Medal of Honor from the AIA’s New York Chapter in 1992. He lives in New York City and continues to mentor and collaborate with his nine partners in a firm of over 100 architects.