Lawrence Halprin

Lawrence Halprin

Lawrence Halprin (born July 1, 1916 in New York City) is a prolific and accomplished American landscape architect and educator.


Halprin grew up in New York and spent three of his teenage years in Palestine on a kibbutz. He earned a degree in plant sciences from Cornell University. In 1935 Halprin returned to the US to attend the Harvard Graduate School of Design under Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and landscape architect Christopher Tunnard. In 1943 Halprin was commissioned in the US Navy as a Lieutenant Junior Grade. He was assigned to the destroyer Morris in the Pacific which was struck by a kamikaze attack. After surviving the destruction of the Morris, Halprin was sent to San Francisco on leave. It was here he would stay following his discharge.

Following an apprenticeship with landscape architect Thomas Dolliver Church, collaborating with Church on the seminal Dewey Donnell Garden (El Novillero) in Sonoma County California and helping to develop the contemporary California Style garden concept, Halprin opened his own office in 1949. Since 1976 he has been a partner with Sue Yung Li Ikeda.

Halprin's wife, accomplished avant-garde dancer Anna Halprin, is a long-time collaborator, with whom he has explored the common areas between choreography and the way users move through a public space. They are the parents of Daria Halprin, an American psychologist, author, dancer, and actress.

Halprin's work is marked by his attention to human scale, user experience, and the social impact of his designs, in the egalitarian tradition of Frederick Law Olmsted. Halprin was the creative force behind the interactive, 'playable' civic fountains most common in the 1970s, an amenity which continues to greatly contribute to the pedestrian social experience in Portland Oregon, where "Ira's Fountain" is loved and well-used, and which has been a chronic failure at the transient-ridden United Nations Plaza in San Francisco.

Recently many of Halprin's works have become the source of some controversy. Some have fallen victim to neglect, and are in states of disrepair. Critics argǔe his pieces have become dated and no longer reflect the direction their cities want to take. Budgetary constraints and the urge to "revitalize" threaten some of his projects. In response foundations have been set up to improve care for some of the sites and to try to preserve them in their original state.


* the FDR Memorial in Washington DC
* approach to Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, visitor attractions constructed and dedicated in 2005
* The Sea Ranch, California, historically significant collaboration with architect Charles Willard Moore and others
* The Ira Keller Fountain (Ira's Fountain), with Lovejoy Plaza Fountain, part of a multi-block sequence of public fountains and outdoor rooms in Portland, Oregon
* Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, California, an early model for adaptive reuse of historic buildings
* United Nations Plaza in San Francisco, California
* Levi Plaza in San Francisco, California
* Cascade Plaza in Akron, Ohio
* Main Street Streetscape in Greenville, South Carolina
* Innerbelt Freeway in Akron, Ohio
* landscape work for Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook, Illinois, exterior landscaping and 'horsehead' fountain scheme for Northwest Plaza in St. Louis, Missouri, among many other post-war suburban shopping plazas
* Jacob Riis Plaza in New York City
* Freeway Park in Seattle, Washington, an innovative reclaiming of interstate right-of-way for park space
*Skyline Park in Denver, Colorado - inspired by Colorado National Monument
* Letterman Digital Arts Center, San Francisco, California
* Riverbank Park, Flint, Michigan
* Manhattan Square Park (1975) in Rochester, NY, convert|5|acre|m2|sing=on urban park with waterfalls, playground and skating rink
* Downtown Mall (1976) in Charlottesville, VA, 8-9 block pedestrian only zone along the city's historic main street
* Park Central Square, in Springfield MO
* Stern Grove Amphitheater, 2005 in San Francisco, California
* Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, one of the nation's first transitways


* 1964 AIA Medal for Allied professionals
* 1969 Elected fellow in the ASLA
* 1970 Elected honorary fellow of the Institute of Interior Design
* 1979 Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture
* 1979 Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement awarded by the AIA
* 2002 National Medal of Arts by The President of the United States
* 2002 Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell Golden Ring
* 2003 ASLA Design Medal
* 2005 Michaelangelo Award


* "The Sea Ranch: Diary of an Idea" (2003) ISBN 188893123X
* "The FDR Memorial: Designed by Lawrence Halprin" (1998) ISBN 1888931116
* "The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial" (1997) ISBN 0811817067
* [ "Design as a Value System"] , "Places": Vol. 6: No. 1 (1989)
* "Lawrence Halprin: Changing Places" (1986) ISBN 0918471060
* "Ecology of Form" (audio book) (1982) ISBN 1850350744
* "Sketchbooks of Lawrence Halprin" (1981) ISBN 4893317016
* "Lawrence Halprin (Process Architecture)" (1978)
* "Lawrence Halprin: Notebooks 1959-1971" (1972) ISBN 0262080516
* "The RSVP cycles; creative processes in the human environment." (1970, c1969) ISBN 807605573
* “Motation.” "Progressive Architecture" Vol. 46 (July 1965): ppg. 126-133

External links

* [ ASLA Article on Halprin]
* [ National Park Service article]
* [ Illustrated appreciation of Ira Keller Fountain in Portland Oregon]
* [ Washington Post profile of Halprin on the dedication of the FDR Memorial]
* [ Article about an untitled Halprin fountain on the Capitol grounds of Olympia, Washington. Published in The Olympian. Copyright by Kristin Alexander.]

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