Kenneth I. Helphand
University of Georgia Press in association with LALH
A volume in the Masters of Modern Landscape Design series
During a career spanning six decades, Lawrence Halprin (1916–2009) became one of the most prolific and outspoken landscape architects of his generation. He took on challenging new project types, developing a multidisciplinary practice that experimented with adaptive reuse and ecological design in relation to shopping malls, the freeway, and urban renewal. In his lifelong effort to improve the American landscape, Halprin celebrated the creative process as a form of social activism.
A native New Yorker, Halprin earned degrees from Cornell and the University of Wisconsin before completing his design degree at Harvard. In 1945 he joined Thomas Church’s firm, where he collaborated on the iconic Donnell Garden. Halprin opened his own San Francisco office in 1949. Halprin’s firm initially focused on residential commissions in the Bay Area, completing close to three hundred in its inaugural decade. By the 1960s, the firm had gained recognition for significant urban renewal projects such as Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco (1962–68), Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis (1962–67), and Freeway Park in Seattle (1970–74). Halprin used his conception of a Sierra stream as the catalyst for the Portland Open Space Sequence, a series of parks featuring great fountains that linked housing and civic space in the inner city.
A charismatic speaker and passionate artist, Halprin designed landscapes that reflected the democratic and participatory ethic characteristic of his era. He communicated his ideas as well in lectures, books, exhibits, and performances, and he consulted on important urban commissions throughout the country. Along with his contemporary Ian McHarg, Halprin was his generation’s great proselytizer for landscape architecture as environmental design. Throughout his long career, he strived to develop poetic and symbolic landscapes that, in his words, could “articulate a culture’s most spiritual values.”
KENNETH I. HELPHAND, FASLA, is professor emeritus of landscape architecture at the University of Oregon, where he has taught courses in landscape history, theory, and design since 1974. He is the author of four previous books and numerous articles.