Halprin at FDR Memorial in DC

Halprin at FDR Memorial in DC

Lawrence Halprin, the renowned landscape architect died this week at the age of 93. Born in New York City, he worked on a pre-State kibbutz for three years as a teenager, and then returned to the USA to earn an ivy degree in plant sciences and study landscape architecture. After serving in the US Navy in WWII, he went on to become one of the most influential landscape and environmental designers.

There are few books that I remember from college, but I fondly recall Halprin’s 1972 book on CITIES, which told the story of how Roman cities were planned as army camps, medieval walled cities were designed for the defense against external invaders, and Baroque cities were laid out to control internal invaders and rebellious mobs (star shaped avenues from a central apex). But to paraphrase Halprin’s words, in the 1970’s, planners should design cities to make possible a rich and biologically satisfying life for people through the use of open spaces, streets, plazas, parks, gardens, walls, enclosures, pavings, elevations, water, water, more water, trees, lighting, clouds, clocks, garage tops, and ballards. He was very keen on the use of visible and audible movements and motions of water, and how to deisgn for the movement of people.

Israeli designs based on Halprin's ideas

Israeli designs based on Halprin's ideas

Many of his ideas were put to use in Israel, such as the a 1.5-mile walkway overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. In America, his greatest achievments were the FDR Memorial, Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco; dazzling fountains in Portland, Oregon; a park that sits on top of a highway in Seattle; and Sea Ranch, a development of homes in Sonoma County, CA, that conform to the contours of the hills.

I will have to reread that book one of these days.

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