Lawrence Halprin: July 1, 1916 - October 25, 2009
October 27, 2009 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Influential landscape architect Lawrence Halprin has died at the age of 93. "He was the single most influential landscape architect of the postwar years," said Charles Birnbaum, president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation. "He redefined the profession's role in cities." Noted projects include The Sea Ranch a 5,000-acre residential development on the coast of Sonoma county in northern California; Ghirardelli Square, the first major adaptive re-use project in the United States, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C; and a new trail from which to experience Yosemite Falls.

He was truly a pioneer in his field. For a generation that often divided landscape practice into landscape art versus ecological design, Halprin’s works and his writings demonstrate how to link creative artistic impulses with the ecological sciences. He excelled at connecting phenomenological experience with environmental awareness and ethics. Halprin considered the design process as important as the end result. He analyzed user needs to create diagrams and designs. He developed a design methodology involving client and user in which their desires were synthesized into a final design statement. His work is archived at the University of Pennsylvania.

His death at 93 ends a long, creative life that left a distinctive imprint across many landscapes.
posted by otherwordlyglow (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by rtha at 2:19 PM on October 27, 2009

The FDR Memorial is one of my favorites. When I took my mom to DC for the first time this summer, she was fixated on seeing the Lincoln Memorial. After walking the entire Mall, we were on our way to the parking lot when we passed the FDR Memorial. I managed to convince her to stop even though she was exhausted after a long day. After walking through the FDR Memorial and taking it all in, she announced that it was her favorite, even more so than the Lincoln Memorial. That alone made the trip worth it.

posted by Coyote at the Dog Show at 2:35 PM on October 27, 2009

I love the Roosevelt Memorial, and Sea Ranch is one of my favorite places. We go for long weekends at least once a year, and although we poke gentle fun at the sameness of the houses ("Did we stay at this one before?" "No, I think the fireplace in the last one was on the opposite wall...wasn't it?"), I'm also glad that the whole place isn't one hideous McMansion after another.
posted by rtha at 2:36 PM on October 27, 2009

Also, I'm completely aware of the criticism surrounding a lot of his work (not a fan of places like Justin Herman plaza particularly) but he certainly has a huge impact on landscape architecture and urban design. He also seemed to be, according to friends of mine that worked in his office, quite a character. His wife certainly is!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:41 PM on October 27, 2009

posted by Xoebe at 4:31 PM on October 27, 2009

So many of these projects are touchstones from my California childhood. Thanks for posting this.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 5:29 PM on October 27, 2009

Oh, and I almost forgot! His daughter Dana, who now collaborates with his wife, Anna, on their innovative dance projects, was the star of "Zabriskie Point."
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 5:32 PM on October 27, 2009

As a pup I found his 'RSVP Cycles' inspirational; later came the correlation with Boyd's OODA loop. Though perhaps Paul Foster Case predates them both with his discussion of IHVH (search for 'chair' to find the discussion).
posted by dragonsi55 at 6:38 PM on October 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by gingerbeer at 11:21 PM on October 27, 2009

Editorial piece in memory of Halprin on Planetizen: Modernism's Olmsted.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:27 PM on October 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

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