One of the world’s leading landscape architects and environmental planners, Lawrence Halprin was at the forefront of design innovation with works ranging from the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC to the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem.
His practice comprised a catalog of leading-edge environmental design in projects ranging from inner urban centers to National Parks. His reputation was built on over fifty years of expanding our expectations for the environmental realm. Projects that have been transformed by his particular sensitivity and talent have become benchmarks in the development of our current values. All of these projects spurred others to reassess the value and use of their resources. These projects include:
- The Sea Ranch, a residential development on the California coast which is recognized for its great sensitivity to community values and the natural environment;
- Ghirardelli Square, an early model for the reuse of historic buildings in an urban environment;
- The plazas and grand fountains of Portland, Oregon, a joyful participation in public open spaces (they say “come-in”, not “stay out”);
- Seattle Freeway Park, an environmental design to heal an urban freeway wound;
- Levi Plaza in San Francisco, an urban corporate campus as an alternative to flight to the suburbs;
- The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, a presidential memorial in Washington D.C. which set a new standard for the public’s involvement in their past.
Through his philosophy of design, his books and lectures, Halprin moved far outside of the confines traditionally imposed by his field. By his experiments in dance and choreography with his wife, Anna Halprin, he discovered a methodology for involving community in the design process. These early experiments were described in his book RSVP Cycles (Brazilier, 1969) and they remain a primer for all those interested in sources of design and creativity. Although such involvement with community was eyed suspiciously by the establishment for years, today, derivations of his “TAKING PART” workshop process are an integral part of citizen and community participation processes used throughout the country.
Inevitably, the honors that Lawrence Halprin received for such a prolific career were multitudinous and varied. Among the numerous awards are the Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture and the Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement awarded by the American Institute of Architects. He received a presidential appointment to the first National Council on the Arts and also to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. He was a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, The American Institute of Interior Design, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received honorary doctorates from the University of Pennsylvania and the California College of Arts and Crafts.
More telling than awards, however, was the caliber of projects that sought Lawrence Halprin’s genius. In April, 2005, he completed a new design for the Lower Yosemite Falls area in Yosemite National Park, and his design for a new concert facility in Stern Grove opened on June 19, 2005. One of his final projects was in Israel – a Promenade overlooking the Jerusalem Forest.