Lawrence Halprin was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, from 1916 to 2009. Halprin earned a Master of Science in horticulture at the University of Wisconsin in 1941 after spending time in Israel and at Cornell University. In 1942, he enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Bachelor of Landscape Architecture program after marrying Anna Schuman. Halprin’s work as a landscape architect was postponed by two years due to his enlistment in the United States Navy during World War II, like many of his contemporaries. He returned to California in the spring of 1945 and founded his own company in San Francisco.
Lawrence Halprin and Associates were well-known for their urban landscape redevelopment programs by the mid-1960s, and they continued to win significant contracts for the next three decades. The American Institute of Architects Medal for Allied Professions (1964), the Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA Design Medal (2003), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1978), the University of Virginia Thomas Jefferson Medal of Architecture (1979), and the National Medal of Arts (2002), the country’s highest honor for an artist, were among the many awards Halprin earned. RSVP Cycles, Taking Part, Cities, Freeways, and Notebooks are just a few of Halprin’s works.
LoveJoy Fountain Park
The LoveJoy Fountain Park in Portland, Oregon, is a well-known venture of Halprin’s. This is one of the first developments in Lawrence’s “Urban Renewal Area” design, which aims to turn urban areas into plazas that can host events and activities. This park, which can be seen from nearby buildings and features “stepped terraces of board-formed concrete planes,” is reminiscent of the desolate High Sierra landscape that inspired Halprin.
The park’s perimeter is kept vegetated, while inside the plaza, active fountains replicate the surrounding Cascade Range’s natural waterfalls and flowing streams, resulting in calm pools that allow visitors not only to look but also to partake in the water feature itself. Lawrence Halprin insists on the sound of water as a natural feature to maximize one’s visit to this park once again.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, which took twenty-three years to complete, was one of Lawrence Halprin’s finest accomplishments in Landscape Architecture. The 8-acre plan, which is located in Washington, D.C., cost $50 million to construct, making it the most expensive monument in history. His design consisted of a series of four galleries or garden rooms that told the story of the United States over the four terms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency. This concept involved a lot of sketching, labs, sketches, mock-ups, screening, among other stuff. Stone is used to express the fracture and upheaval of the times in the memorial’s rooms and water features, which are often made of red South Dakota granite. The cascading water serves as a “metaphorical part of the palette,” increasing in volume and complexity as the story progresses.
There are also 10 bronze statues and 21 engraved inscriptions, as well as quotes from FDR’s speeches and fireside chats, incorporated into the architecture. It is the first memorial in the country to be wheelchair and handicapped accessible, with ramps and braille writing. According to the New York Times, this is Halprin’s favorite project, and it is also mine. I loved how this design encouraged visitors to wander around the memorial at their leisure and choose what they wanted to learn and see.
Halprin closely examines the choreography of action through this room to determine how people can navigate the design. It’s incredible how he uses the natural aspect of water to elicit various feelings by gradually increasing the volume of crashing waves.
Ideology and Philosophy
The flow of natural elements in a natural landscape is central to Halprin’s philosophy. He tried his hardest not to replicate natural environments, but to merge human and natural elements into one.
In his definition of modernism, Halprin summarises his point of view and experience. “To be fully understood, Modernism is not only a matter of cubist space but of a systemic approach to the matter of making places for people to live… Modernism, as we understand and practice it, encompasses and is focused on the vital archetypal desires of human beings as persons as well as social groups.”
Many of Halprin’s ventures reflect his love of nature and his experience in the High Sierras. At Freeway Park in Seattle, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC, and the Ira Keller and Lovejoy Fountains in Portland, Oregon, the echo and waterfall of the mountain stream are signature memories. Halprin’s theory included groups in the design process; his R.S.V.P seminars guided many people into the artistic process. Halprin developed a scoring scheme, a method of noting movement around space, in collaboration with his wife Anna Shuman Halprin.
Halprin’s creations became more and more reliant on this trend. Ghirardelli Square, Levi Plaza, and the Embarcadero Fountain in San Francisco, as well as The Sea Ranch in northern California, are other well-known Halprin landscapes.
The New York-born, San Francisco-based Halprin was not only a gifted planner and an excellent spokesman, but he was also foresighted, his seminal treatises Cities (1963) and Freeways (1966) foreshadowed the current urban revival.
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Nytimes.com. 2021. Celebrating a Rugged Vision of Landscape Architecture (Published 2016). [online] Available at: <https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/23/arts/design/celebrating-a-rugged-vision-of-landscape-architecture.html> [Accessed 18 April 2021].
Landscape Architect + Designer Profiles. 2021. Lawrence Halprin (1916-2009). [online] Available at: <http://ladprofile.weebly.com/lawrence-halprin-1916-2009.html#:~:text=Halprin’s%20individual%20philosophy%20focuses%20on,man%20and%20nature%20into%20one.> [Accessed 18 April 2021].
landscape theory. 2021. Lawrence Halprin – landscape theory. [online] Available at: <https://landscapetheory1.wordpress.com/tag/lawrence-halprin/> [Accessed 18 April 2021].
Tclf.org. 2021. Lawrence Halprin: Designer of “one of the most important urban spaces since the Renaissance” | The Cultural Landscape Foundation. [online] Available at: <https://tclf.org/lawrence-halprin-designer-one-most-important-urban-spaces-renaissance> [Accessed 18 April 2021].
Pinterest. 2021. Lovejoy Fountain, 1967 | Fountain park, Art and architecture, Landscape. [online] Available at: <https://in.pinterest.com/pin/234257618093892543/> [Accessed 18 April 2021].