Mr. Lantzius studied landscape architecture at North Carolina State University. After service in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of California at Berkeley where he received a bachelor of science degree in landscape architecture. Later, he received a master's degree from Harvard's Graduate School of Design. He began his career at the San Francisco landscape architecture firm of Lawrence Halprin and Associates.
In 1961 he established his own firm, John Lantzius and Associates, in Vancouver, and among his many projects contributed to Habitat at Montreal's Expo 67. In 1968, he established the landscape architecture program at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, before returning to Vancouver where he continued his firm's practice. Mr. Lantzius's firm played a major role in Vancouver, working with architects Arthur Erickson and Geoffrey Massey on such projects as Simon Fraser University.
Other Lantzius projects include the University of Victoria Gordon Head Campus, housing on the former Langara Golf Course and massive expansion at the University of British Columbia. At this time, with an interest in revitalization, Mr. Lantzius acquired several properties in and around the city's old warehouse district of Yaletown and began renovating them. In the 1970's Mr. Lantzius turned his sights to Asheville where he acquired historic buildings along Lexington Avenue that had been neglected. He began restoring the buildings, planting trees, encouraging small business, always with a vision for a vibrant downtown.
In 1980 he was one of a small group of individuals that successfully opposed the plan to build a downtown mall, which would have destroyed numerous historic buildings in Asheville. He was very much a hands-on landlord with a priority of helping small, independent businesses get established. The Asheville City Council declared October 10, 2001 as "John Lantzius Day" in recognition of his work. In 2012, the North Carolina Chapter of The American Planning Association voted Lexington Avenue one of the top "Great Main Streets" in the state. That same year Mr. Lantzius was honored with the Downtown Heroes Award presented by the Asheville Downtown Association (ADA), for his pioneering spirit and preservation work along Lexington Avenue.