Posts tagged with "Lawrence Halprin":

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SFMOMA to present a deep-dive of planning behind Sea Ranch

This winter, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will exhibit The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment, and Idealism, a deep dive into the conceptual planning behind the iconic Sea Ranch development in Northern California. Designed by Charles Moore, Joseph Esherick, William Turnbull, Lawrence Halprin, and Barbara Stauffacher Solomon, Sea Ranch is considered a revolutionary effort that melded speculative suburban development with budding countercultural movements in an effort to “live lightly on the land.” The naturalistic development was planned in 1964 and driven by its conceptual opposition to the suburban American model of development that hardly considered site issues or natural beauty. Created by developer Al Boeke and a group of Bay Area architects, landscape architects and graphic designers, the project was listed along with other nearby works as a later example of the Bay Region Style, a localized variant of Modernism coined by Lewis Mumford in a controversial 1947 article he penned for The New Yorker The exhibition will showcase archival and contemporary photographs, original drawings and sketches of the initial designs as well as a full-scale architectural model created for the exhibition. “In mid-20th century California, Modern architecture represented social progress," said SFMOMA architecture and design curator Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher in a statement. "It signaled a shirking of tradition and bold new models for living. The Sea Ranch was envisioned as a place to embrace the land, a particularly moody and memorable land, that could expand California’s existing indoor-outdoor lifestyle." The exhibition runs December 22, 2018 through April 28, 2019.
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Another Halprin-designed plaza could be on the chopping block, this time in San Francisco

Depending on how things go, the Lawrence Halprin-designed United Nations Plaza and fountain in San Francisco could soon be demolished. The brick-lined open space is punctuated by a jagged, sunken fountain made of rough-shorn granite blocks and is installed in the city’s Civic Center district, an area that is undergoing redevelopment as the city seeks to beautify and enliven existing pedestrian areas. Though not designed as a commemorative work, when it opened in 1975, the fountain was dedicated to the signing of the U.N. charter, an event that took place in the Veterans War Memorial Building near the site of the future fountain in 1945. The opening marked the 30th anniversary of the signing and originally heralded the fountain as a civic work of global significance. The fountain was designed by Halprin, who worked in concert with architects Mario Ciampi and John Carl Warnecke as part of an urban redevelopment scheme for the area. At Halprin’s office, Don Carter worked as principal-in-charge for the project with Angela Danadjieva—lead designer for Halprin’s Freeway Park in Seattle—as landscape architect. The fountain was designed starting in 1962 during Halprin’s Modernist period; when the fountain debuted 13 years later, it contained a futuristic set of features, including computerized spray nozzles that could detect strong winds and dial-down in power in response, as to not spray passersby with water. Art and Architecture reports that the high-tech, Sierra-inspired fountain also came with an artful tidal pool installation inspired by San Francisco’s tides that cycled every hour. Greenery, including large trees, originally surrounded the fountain, as well.  The fountain was designed according to a concept called “motation,” a method for scoring how one’s perception of the environment changes depending on the speed and motion of the observer, according to The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). The fountain’s stacked blocks are carved with inscriptions and represent each of earth’s seven continents. The work, 165-feet long and articulated raucously as a set of stepped, interactive cascades, acts as a gateway connecting Market Street with the Asian Art Museum, the Orpheum Theater, a public library, and eventually, the Civic Center Plaza fronting City Hall. Today, the fountain is suffering from disrepair and neglect, with the tidal pools long-extinguished and most of the surrounding vegetation gone. The Civic Center BART and Muni station has recently come into the spotlight as open-air, intravenous drug use has become more prevalent within its corridors. Sandwiched between the city’s rapidly-gentrifying Tenderloin and South of Market districts, the areas above and within the station are often populated by people experiencing homelessness, a long-standing site condition that precedes even the 1975 renovations. The plaza spaces were “hardened” against this type of occupation in the early 2000s when all of the benches were removed and the fountain was briefly shut down. Starting in 2005, however, the plaza became home to a twice-weekly farmers market that continues to draw crowds. Plans are currently underway by CMG Landscape Architecture to redesign the plaza in tow with surrounding streets and open spaces as part of the Civic Center Public Realm Plan. The plan is managed by San Francisco’s planning department in conjunction with multiple local agencies and seeks to soften the area by promoting pedestrian use of the spaces surrounding San Francisco City Hall while repairing some of the planning mistakes of the past, like the lack of concessions and playgrounds in the area. The design team includes Gehl Studio, HR&A, InterEthnica, Kennerly Architecture + Planning, Lotus Water, Structus, M. Lee, JS Nolan, architecture + history, and HRA Engineering. CMG is currently soliciting public opinion on a trio of redevelopment proposals, only one of which retains the iconic fountain.  The three proposals seek to redesign the space, with each presenting a different approach to shifting the overriding character of the three interlocking plaza spaces that make up the open space sequence between Market Street and City Hall.  First, the “Culture Connector” plan aims to connect the three “flex” plazas with two runs of general-purpose open spaces lined with gridded street trees. The proposal would modify Halprin’s fountain in order to transform it into a kids’ bouldering playground. A pair of larger playgrounds would ring the Civic Center Plaza in the scheme, with collections of kiosks and pavilions scattering the site.  The “Public Platform” plan aims to resignify the plazas’ function as space for protest and political gatherings by creating a more open plaza at the fore of City Hall that will be flanked by lawns. Here, fewer trees would be present while new concessions structures are to be consolidated in larger buildings at key entry points to the main square. In this scheme, the plaza fountain would be replaced with a new interactive waterwork. The “Civic Sanctuary” scheme proposes to reconfigure the plaza areas into lawns while garden rooms and a sculpture gardens ring other areas of the site. The scheme—geared toward preserving the historic elements of the plaza complex—would retain the water fountain, though plans call for removing some of the taller stone elements of the installation. The fast and loose proposals raise questions regarding the care—or lack thereof—being taken with the Halprin-designed fountain as plans are being made for the future of the UN Plaza and surrounding spaces. Charles Birnbaum, president and CEO of TCLF, described the fountain as having a “high degree of integrity” and as a “slam-dunk landscape architecture contribution for the National Register of Historic Places.” Birnbaum explained that planners are mistaken to casually call for the elimination of a piece of high civic art via a public opinion survey and that the work was among the most intact of Halprin’s surviving San Francisco works. The fountain is eligible for the National Register and is actually located in an existing historic district, but under a designation that does not include the 1970s-era changes to the area. As a result, efforts to hastily rework the Civic Center’s public spaces threaten to sacrifice one of San Francisco’s major civic art works in lieu of seemingly generic and temporary sculptures. Further, the salad bar approach presented in the schemes—individual elements of from each of the proposals are also up for consideration, allowing the schemes to be mixed and matched—leaves much to be desired for Birnbaum, who would rather see more thoughtful community engagement for the site. Halprin—the “father of public engagement” according to Birnbaum—was known for artful collaboration with clients and users in his efforts to find responsive approaches for his often-interactive works and landscapes. For now, San Francisco will continue to collect public input through the summer so that the design team can generate a singular proposal for formal consideration. 
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Preservation-minded renovation of Halprin’s Freeway Park moves forward

Even as SOM bulldozes Lawrence Halprin's Los Angeles atrium (the only atrium he ever designed), officials 1,000 miles to the north are gearing up to preserve Freeway Park, the eminent landscape architect's highway-capping park in Seattle. Designed by Halprin and Angela Danadjieva and built in 1976, the Brutalist park had fallen into severe disrepair, and residents said that they avoid the somewhat isolated park for safety reasons. After initial, conceptual proposals for the National Register of Historic Places-eligible property provoked alarm, stakeholders said they are collaborating with landscape preservation and advocacy organizations like The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) on any future changes.
The renovations are thus geared towards better lighting and wayfinding in the original segment of the park. On its website, TCLF cross-posted an excerpt from an agreement between public and private interests on the future of the park that stated renovations will follow "the Secretary of Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties, as well as specific guidance for parks found in the Secretary of Interior’s Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes," two nationally-codified standards for preservation practice.
As renovations kick into gear, the City of Seattle is collaborating with Freeway Park Association (FPA), the park's nonprofit stewards, to repair the park's facilities and infrastructure. Last summer FPA tapped Seattle's SiteWorkshop Landscape Architects to produce schematic designs and conceptual renderings for park improvements based on community feedback. Work may also include upgrades to lighting, wayfinding, and entrances, as well as restrooms and site furnishings. $1o million of the project cost is being financed by a public benefits package that stems from the expansion of the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC), a $1.7 billion project that the Seattle City Council has yet to approve. FPA has also received grant money to carry out the repairs.
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SOM to replace Halprin’s only atrium with $60 million amenity plaza

Brookfield Properties and SOM have unveiled new renderings for a forthcoming $60 million renovation of the Lawrence Halprin-designed public plaza and atrium spaces located at the foot of the Wells Fargo Center towers in Downtown Los Angeles. Originally designed as an “urban, indoor Garden of Eden” with developer Robert Maguire and Modernist sculptor Robert Graham, the Halprin-designed atrium space was demolished in late 2017 without announcement and will now give way for a new kind of “amenity-rich” Eden populated by two restaurants, a fitness center, an indoor-outdoor bar, and other small-scale food vendors. Gone are the Robert Graham-, Joan Miro-, and Jean Dubuffet-designed sculptures that once populated the fountain-laden atrium, to be replaced with wrap-around booth seating, a stepped amphitheater, and a bar. Renderings for the new SOM-designed plaza spaces surrounding the ground floor atrium project depict a more open frontage along the site’s Grand Avenue edge, with existing pink granite-clad knee walls to make way for new planted areas and rounded bench seating. The formal atrium structure will also be softened via the introduction of a new open-web metal awning structure along its front. Areas overlooking Hope Street on the opposite side of the complex will also receive upgrades, with renderings depicting shady terrace spaces and new cabana structures wrapping the second story retail spaces above the street. Halprin’s atrium was designed in 1983 as the first component of the Los Angeles Open Space Network, a string of indoor-outdoor plazas, gardens, and parks linking the new Bunker Hill area with the South Park neighborhood to the south. The network was bookended on its northern edge by the atrium and includes the nearby Bunker Hill steps at the foot of the Pei, Cobb, Freed-designed US Bank Tower, the adjacent Maguire Gardens Park, and Grand-Hope Park. The network was not listed as a historic resource either locally or nationally prior to the demolition of the Halprin-designed atrium. Regarding the atrium demolition, Charles Birnbaum, CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation said, “It’s remarkable and disturbing that the atrium was demolished with no public notice or input,” adding, “By the way, in 2016 the water channel that runs the length of the Bunker Hill Steps was also fundamentally altered (again with no notice or public input); the rocky features over which water once cascaded (a design element Halprin abstracted from the California wilderness) have been replaced with something benign.  The entire Los Angeles Open Space Network is at the tipping point." SOM originally designed the twin 54- and 45-story story towers on the site in 1981–they were completed in 1983–amid Bunker Hill’s initial transformation from Victorian-era upper class suburb to the purpose-built postmodern business district in existence today. The austere, reflective granite-clad towers present an angular presence on the skyline and are memorialized in Fredric Jameson’s seminal tome Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism as prime examples of the era’s new “depthless” and “literal” architectural mode. Jameson wrote:
The great free-standing wall of Wells Fargo Court—a surface which seems to be unsupported by any volume, or whose putative volume (rectangular? trapezoidal?) is ocularly quite undecidable. This great sheet of windows, with its gravity-defying two-dimensionality, momentarily transforms the solid ground on which we stand into the contents of a stereopticon, pasteboard shapes profiling themselves here and there around us. The visual effect is the same from all sides: as fateful as the great monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 which confronts its viewers like an enigmatic destiny, a call to evolutionary mutation. If this new multinational downtown effectively abolished the older ruined city fabric which is violently replaced, cannot something similar be said about the way in which this strange new surface in its own peremptory way renders our older systems of perception of the city somehow archaic and aimless, without offering another in their place?
The changes to the Wells Fargo Center come amid explosive change in the city’s Bunker Hill area, with a massive Gehry Partners-designed $1 billion mixed-use complex, a new Colburn School complex—also by Gehry—and renovations to the Music Center Plaza led by RCH Studios all currently under development. SOM’s renovations are already underway and are expected to be complete by 2019.
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Lawrence Halprin’s only atrium project undergoes surprise renovation

An eagle-eyed preservationist has sounded the alarm over a renovation of the atrium of the Wells Fargo Center on Bunker Hill, Los Angeles, designed by noted modernist landscape architect Lawrence Halprin. Envisioned as a “an urban, indoor Garden of Eden,” the publicly-accessible courtyard was the only atrium that Halprin designed. Halprin’s original design for the atrium called for a network of fountains, each featuring their own sculpture, that fed constantly running waterways arranged in geometric patterns, which generated a pleasant background noise. As a passerby noted on Twitter yesterday, the contemporary statues by sculptors Robert Graham, Joan Miro, and Jean Dubuffet have been removed, and the runnels have been drained. After asking around, the original Twitter poster discovered that the area was being remodeled. The atrium sits within the Wells Fargo Center, an office building designed by SOM and completed in 1983. The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) notes that although this space was often underutilized by the public, Wells Fargo Center staff had up until this point kept the atrium well maintained. TCLF has been a vocal proponent of cataloguing and preserving Halprin’s work, and have organized and curated the The Landscape Architecture of Lawrence Halprin exhibition currently running at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles until the end of the year. AN will update this story once we have more information on whether Halprin’s design, or the nude sculptures, have been removed permanently.
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Halprin’s Heritage Park Plaza in Texas will receive complete restoration

Landscape architect Lawrence Halprin loved cities, so it was only fitting that his cliffside Fort Worth, Texas, commission, Heritage Park Plaza (HPP), was the first-ever item on the National Register of Historic Places designated solely as landscape architecture.

Located on the northern edge of downtown Fort Worth, on a half-acre atop a bluff on the Trinity River, HPP is a series of concrete walls, a rambling collection of ceiling-less rooms on the original site of the 19th-century military fortification for which Fort Worth is named. At one time, water, funneled through concrete channels, unified the design and offered a symbolic connection to the river. If you’ve been to the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C. (unveiled in 1997), the design here will ring familiar to you; Halprin applied the approach honed in Texas to honor the 32nd president.

Completed in 1980, Heritage Park Plaza was the first project where Halprin began to think in a postmodern way. On-site, he worked with artisans to interpret the location’s history and, by extension, the city’s heritage. In a 1971 master plan for the City of Fort Worth, Halprin originally conceived of HPP as one of a series of public spaces linking the Trinity River to Philip Johnson’s Water Gardens, fewer than five miles away.

The city-owned parklet had deteriorated badly by 2007, when it closed to the public. But why was such an important work allowed to fall apart in the first place?

Reasons abound. Unlike the Water Gardens downtown, HPP’s relative remoteness makes it harder to visit, while people who do come must cross roads and traffic to access the site. The original concrete, though, is in pretty good shape. The real problem, surprisingly, came from the trees themselves. Halprin planted a central bosque with 11 live oaks, a species that sheds its leaves gradually, and consequently a basin for the water feature’s mechanical system became clogged with debris. The new trees proposed for the site—cedar elms—drop their leaves all at once, making cleaning easier to plan.

To address these issues and others, the city hired two local firms to collaborate on a comprehensive restoration: Landscape architects at Studio Outside and architects at Bennett Benner Partners will restore the park, using Halprin’s original specifications (some unrealized in the final built form).

It will cost an estimated $3 million just to repair HPP, but plans are on hold—for a good reason. Although almost all of the construction documentation for the restoration was complete, stakeholders realized that to ensure the park’s long-term survival, a master plan was needed for attracting people to and rebuilding the landscape of the whole area.

Among the changes, the team is moving Main Street and adding a forecourt that can be used for events. The move, said Tary Arterburn, principal of Studio Outside, “will bring life to the park that it never really had.”

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Why are we wrecking our best modernist landscapes?

This is a feature article from Issue 8 of The Architect's Newspaper. If you’ve seen the movie Columbus, you’ll remember, among all the nerdy dialogue about modernist bank branches and James Polshek’s buildings, that scene where the two protagonists passionately discuss the Dan Kiley landscape outside the Eero Saarinen–designed Miller House. No? That’s because landscape architecture, though intrinsic to the experience of some of the best modern buildings, rarely gets the conversation it deserves. Despite being featured in all the film’s promo shots, the landscape by one of the last century’s best landscape architects got zero shout-outs. This snub, brought to light by the Cultural Landscape Foundation Executive Director Charles Birnbaum in a Huffington Post op-ed, reflects larger attitudes toward landscape architecture in the United States. It’s a long-held and frequently heard complaint inside the discipline that even successful landscapes by the very best designers are treated like scenery for architecture. While New Yorkers love Central Park, concrete plazas between modernist skyscrapers—even though they are essential to the experience of the buildings themselves—don’t elicit the same joy. Modern and late-modern landscapes in American cities are the least appreciated and least understood outdoor spaces, though they shape day-to-day experience in the contemporary American city more than leafy 19th-century destination parks. These modern spaces contrasted with—and challenged—the platonic ideal of the American urban park, established by Frederick Law Olmsted and largely unchanged since the 1860s. Urban renewal gave designers the opportunity to think up supersize projects (New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Boston’s Government Center, Pittsburgh’s Gateway Center, Philadelphia’s Penn Center) that afforded new ways of experiencing space and the city. Instead of offering the faux-countryside, 20th-century designers summoned concrete and right angles to create dynamic public spaces rooted in modernist functionalism. In the postwar years, as industry abandoned cities en masse and corporations moved white-collar workers to lush suburban campuses, cities and captains of industry commissioned the best landscape architects in practice to activate declining downtowns with plazas and parklets. In smaller urban projects like Heritage Park Plaza in Fort Worth, Texas, Fountain Place in Dallas, and Peavey Plaza in Minneapolis, designers like Lawrence Halprin, Kiley, and M. Paul Friedberg offered contemporary city experiences that both responded to and represented these profound changes in the American urban form. This not only applies to plazas from the boomer or Gen X era, but to Millennial landscapes, too. Just as chokers and platform sandals are cool again, designers are expressing renewed interest in successful 1990s postmodern landscapes, like Wagner Park or Pershing Square. Despite their significance, these parks are now threatened by thoughtless development. Unlike their forbearers—most of which were baked into city plans or carved from large swaths of open space—modernist landscapes like Freeway Park in Seattle shaped vestigial areas, harnessed from leftover space (like vest-pocket Paley Park in Manhattan), or repurposed former industrial land (Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco). In their comparatively tiny areas, designers deployed textural materials like concrete, gridded trees into mini urban forests, and masked obtrusive city sounds with water features. Despite their historic significance, these sites are constantly imperiled by bad maintenance, and the public antipathy that follows—“What’s with all that concrete, and where are all the flowers?” While it can take decades for an artist’s work to be appreciated, as Halprin noted, landscapes and the land on which they sit are often at the mercy of changing real estate interests and don’t have time to mature in the public perception. Though some, maybe most famously Boston’s Government Center, are wildly unsuccessful and are being (sensitively) adapted right now, many upgradeable landscapes whose potential could be teased out with thoughtful changes are instead being plowed over with heavy-handed schemes that dishonor the original design intent. Maybe because they are underappreciated, many postwar urban parks and plazas are threatened by market forces and dumb human decisions: out-of-place nearby development, revamps that turn parks into front lawns for speculative real estate, rising downtown land values, and, paradoxically, resilience measures that anticipate future coastal flooding. Compared to buildings, landscapes have fewer protections afforded to them. Since June, there’s one less: The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the demolition of a Sasaki fountain and plaza that anchored the base of Citicorp Center, a suave Hugh Stubbins–designed 1970s angle-topped tower on Lexington Avenue at 53rd Street. The architect would faint if he were around to see the flowerbeds proposed for the base of his building. Though developments like these can be jarring, the cities around these landscapes have changed substantially, too. After fleeing in the mid-20th century, people and prosperity have returned to cities. Though regional development is always uneven, there’s a persistent and widespread demand for walk-to-work neighborhoods with a healthy mix of day-into-night life. Downtown is hot. And tastes have changed, too. As megaprojects like Hudson Yards and smaller regional ones like SWA’s San Jacinto Plaza in El Paso, Texas, demonstrate, there’s a desire for more programmed space, with Ping-Pong tables and colorful, interactive public art. These landscapes reflect a turn from urban production to urban consumption; though the social life of these public spaces still includes people-watching and book-reading (or phone-staring), spaces are increasingly programmed around shopping, tourism, and scenery that’s good content for Instagram. Planners today promote infill housing and mixed-use everything, so visitors to these downtown parks are, increasingly, residents too. Outside of a few true classics that have never lost their luster, how do modernist landscapes fare against their newer predecessors? For this feature, we chose some of the notable urban landscapes of that era currently under redevelopment to assess where they are now, and how they’re being adapted—or not—for the future. Their designers never intended for their landscapes to be built and forgotten. There’s little to love in badly patched concrete, treeless planters, or dry fountains. We’re looking anew at famous landscapes by the best of the best and at those that are less familiar. Some honor the landscape architect’s original design intent, while others…don’t. Preservation isn’t about ossifying landscapes in some vintage ideal, but framing updates around the original design intent. Across the country, designers are looking at landscapes with consideration of their significance while adapting them for contemporary knowledge of ecology, accessibility, and programming. In a May 2017 talk at the National Capital Planning Commission in Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Meyer, professor of landscape architecture at the University of Virginia, explained why landscapes of the 1950s through the 1980s are significant today: They are a record of postwar modernization and urbanization, and they should be reimagined—not cast in amber—for the 21st century. “Adapting modernist landscapes does not require demolition and redesign,” Meyer said. Just like the designers who revamped the 19th-century city park in the 1970s, these projects will need careful updates for today’s users, made with intelligent materials, to facilitate life in the present while looking back to history, not to pickle the past but to energize urban life.
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27-story tower to rise next to Halprin’s Grand-Hope Park in downtown L.A.

Developer Forest City West and architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) have unveiled renderings for a new 27-story apartment tower slated for construction on a site directly opposite the Lawrence Halprin–designed Grand-Hope Park in Downtown Los Angeles. The residential tower—currently known as 949 Hope Street—will feature 236 market-rate apartments as well as 6,700 square feet of ground floor retail spaces, Urbanize.la reports. Renderings for the tower depict a glass curtain wall–clad monolith anchored to the street by a low, single-story plinth containing retail and sidewalk seating. The tower’s base is topped along this commercial wing with an amenity level that is depicted as a rooftop garden and lounge. This level extends behind the tower into the center of the block, where parking and more terrace spaces are located. The building features a rounded corner that demarcates a cut-through walkway along the southern edge of the site and also features inset balconies along each facade. The tower is topped, according to the renderings, with a rooftop pool and a circular indoor lounge area. The project is slated for a booming quarter of L.A.’s downtown known as South Park. The area is currently ablaze with construction cranes, as the first of upwards of 20 residential and high-end hotel towers take shape in the areas surrounding the Los Angeles Convention Center and L.A. Live entertainment complexes just to the south of the 949 Hope Street site. The northern section of the neighborhood—where the proposed tower will be located—has seen a sharp increase in high- and mid-rise residential projects over the last few years, with many more on the way. The area was originally targeted for growth in the late 1980s—with the help of Halprin and developer Maguire Partners—who envisioned Grand-Hope park as the southern cap of a district-wide parks system that would connect residential areas with corporate office towers located several blocks to the north on Bunker Hill. Though many elements of that parks system were never implemented, Halprin’s designs for the bookend parks—Grand-Hope Park to the south and Maguire Gardens at the north—were built and currently function as urban oases amid the flurry of construction. Grand-Hope Park shares a site with the postmodern-style, Jerde-designed Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising from 1993 and is heavily used by neighborhood residents. There are concerns among park preservationists over whether the mature trees in Grand-Hope park might be singed by the light reflected from the many glass towers sprouting up in the area. Tellingly, representations of the park are mostly omitted in the newly-released renderings. The 949 Hope Street project is slated for completion sometime in 2020.
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Lawrence Halprin’s L.A. projects star in landscape architecture symposium this weekend

The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) will be holding a day-long symposium on November 4 at the Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles in conjunction with the opening of The Landscape Architecture of Lawrence Halprin, a photographic exhibition based on Halprin’s body of work. As its name implies, the symposium—titled Landscape as Catalyst: Lawrence Halprin’s Legacy and Los Angeleswill focus on the seminal landscape architect’s lesser-known Los Angeles–based projects. The symposium will “examine the influences and accomplishments” of Halprin’s Los Angeles work and will be held as part of a series of national public events organized by TCLF honoring Halprin’s local and national legacy. The Architect’s Newspaper's West Editor Antonio Pacheco will be moderating a panel discussion at the event titled Focus on SoCal: Maguire Gardens, the Open Space Sequence, and Plaza Las Fuentes. The panel discussion will delve into key works from Halprin’s Los Angeles–area legacy. Speakers on the panel include Robert Maguire III, the Los Angeles developer who commissioned several of Halprin’s L.A.–based projects; Merry Norris of Merry Norris Contemporary Art who led the art and sculpture programs for these projects; Douglas A. Campbell of Campbell & Campbell landscape architects; and Patrick Reynolds, Parks Manager and City Landscape Architect for the City of Culver City. Campbell served as the associate landscape architect for the Grand-Hope Park and Maguire Gardens. Los Angeles Open Space Sequence Halprin’s work in Downtown Los Angeles is typified by the so-called Los Angeles Open Space Network, which was an outgrowth of a 1980 proposal by developer Maguire Partners for “A Grand Avenue,” a linear spine of parks and civic spaces that would be both “people-oriented and activity-generating,” according to the TCLF website. The 11-acre plan was never fully realized but helped to lay the foundation for a collection of four public open spaces along Hope Street that work in tandem to further the urban and social life of the downtown area. Included in this sequence are Crocker Court (now Wells Fargo Court) at the base of SOM-designed, 54-story Crocker Tower complex from 1983; the Bunker Hill Steps at the base of the Pei, Cobb, Freed, & Partners' 73-story Library Tower from 1989; Library Square (now Maguire Gardens) surrounding the Bertram Goodhue–designed Los Angeles Central Library from 1926; and Grand Hope Park surrounding the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) from 1993. The sequence of spaces was designed to stitch Bunker Hill's postmodern towers together with a forthcoming apartment and condominium district to the south known as South Park. The public open spaces—designed alongside other skyscraper and plaza complexes in the area—were meant to create a series of leisure and recreational nodes throughout the district and came to fruition hand-in-hand with postmodern-style architectural projects designed by nationally-recognized firms. The open space projects represent landmark works of Halprin’s late career that utilize water features, dynamic and carefully-staged processions, and symbolic planting and architectural configurations to shape the perception of open space in L.A.’s downtown area. Much like Freeway Park in Seattle, the entire sequence was designed as an interconnected trail of plazas, forecourts, and parks that offer a variety of leisure spaces while also navigating the 100-foot difference in elevation between the top of Bunker Hill and the FIDM campus. The difference here is that by the early 1990s, Halprin was engaged full-tilt with multiple facets of the postmodern style—softening austere, mirrored corporate abstraction at the Crocker Court end of the sequence while repurposing historical symbols and elements in the Bunker Hill Steps and Grand-Hope Park projects. Plaza Las Fuentes Plaza Las Fuentes in nearby Pasadena, on the other hand, was built in 1984 as part of a new mixed-use development for the satellite city’s downtown core. The plaza accompanied an eight-story office tower and 12-story hotel and shopping complex—also developed by Maguire Partners—designed by architects Moore Ruble Yudell. The plaza features Moorish Revival arcades, decorative tile walls designed by the artist Joyce Kozloff, and is populated with sculptures created by Michael Lucero. The park’s geometric fountains guide occupants through the plaza’s stepped site, incorporating sculptures, fountains, and plantings throughout. For more information on and tickets to the Landscape as Catalyst: Lawrence Halprin’s Legacy and Los Angeles symposium, see TCLF’s website.
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Renovations to Halprin’s Freeway Park move closer to reality

With the completion of initial community-engagement efforts and a recent approval by the Seattle Design Commission, the extent of potential changes coming to Seattle’s visionary Freeway Park are beginning to come into finer relief. The late modern freeway cap park designed by Lawrence Halprin and Angela Danadjieva spans a downtown section of Interstate-5 and is undergoing community-driven wayfinding upgrades aimed at boosting the park’s pedestrian visibility and its diversity of uses. Potential changes include the installation of a bandshell, new restroom facilities, a food kiosk, a playground, and even a bouldering wall, Capitol Hill Times reports. The additional functionality will also come with cosmetic and safety-oriented upgrades like increased street lighting, new signage, and the addition of visual markers and colorful paving aimed at drawing more people to and through the 5.2-acre park. The changes were initially led by the Freeway Park Association (FPA), a nonprofit steward of the park. FPA hired local landscape architects Site Workshop to design improvements for the park. The team is now joined by the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC), which is contributing $10 million toward the renovations as part of a public benefits package associated with its own expansion plans. WSCC’s funds would be utilized by the Seattle Parks and Recreation department to implement the design solutions generated via FPA and Site Workshop’s efforts. That effort will be joined by a Seattle Department of Transportation initiative aimed at sprucing up seven of the park’s entrances. The proposed changes come as the 44-year-old park and its constituent “freeway vernacular” aesthetic of board-formed concrete and clustered, stepped terraces and fountains becomes surrounded by an ever-increasing number of corporate office and condominium towers. As the neighborhood around the park has densified, portions of the site have fallen into shadow and some the meandering park’s many entrances have become obscured by new development. The resulting disuse has rendered one of Seattle’s largest urban parks dangerous—a person was murdered there in 2005, a crime at least partially blamed by some on the park’s overgrown state. Referencing the park’s physical isolation, Riisa Conklin, executive director of Freeway Park Association, told The Architect’s Newspaper (AN), “‘Perception of safety’ is particularly complicated for a park that is essentially without the typical ‘eyes’ that surround most urban parks connected to city life via streets and building facades.” Conklin added, “Freeway Park's edges are occupied by private development or the freeway. While the rush of the freeway provides a truly beautiful and unique experience it does not engender the feeling of security that most park users long for.” The park’s mid-life crisis is a common one for late modern structures and landscapes. As the doggedly polemical works of the 1970s and 1980s begin to age, their often austere faces are being met with interventions aimed at softening the edges a bit. In the case of Freeway Park, changes are geared toward pacifying the park through occupation in the form of  “programming” and “activation.” And so, bold the designers and organizers behind the renovations envision bold and colorful initiatives throughout the park that according to some, clash with the contemplative nature of Halprin and Danadjieva’s original designs. At a recent Seattle Design Commission meeting, several design commissioners expressed disapproval with the proposed upgrades, arguing that some of the proposed ideas were incongruous with the quiet, contemplative nature of the park. The commissioners pointed to proposed blade signage, paving materials, and particular art installations as aspects of the new designs that should be reconsidered. At the meeting, Capitol Hill Times reports, commissioner Laura Haddad suggested “going back to the natural palette whenever possible,” adding, “I would not look at this crosswalk and think ‘Freeway Park.’” Despite the commissioners' reservations, the FPA initiative was approved and will now head to the City for final decision. In an email to AN, FPA’s Conklin celebrated the SDC approval, saying, “This is just the beginning! And we are thrilled to have secured the funding to do much-needed upgrades, restoration, and added modern amenities for Freeway Park.” And while the planned changes are surely being pursued with good intentions, it remains to be seen what existential impact the renovations will have on what is widely considered a seminal work of landscape architecture designed by some of the field’s leading figures. Freeway Park was among a collection of Seattle-area parks listed in a compendium created by The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) highlighting threatened nationally-significant landscapes. In a press release announcing the list, TCLF describes the proposed changes to the park as "incompatible" the park's original design. As the world’s first freeway cap park, Halprin and Danadjieva’s designs helped to bring landscape architecture into the postmodern era by challenging the totality of both the freeway and the prototypical American lawn simultaneously by stacking one above the over. Designs for the park were widely published upon its completion, providing a brief but nuanced window into a bleeding edge of design and urbanism trends that would not gain common currency for decades. Today, urban freeway cap parks are allowing cities across the world to retake precious space from cars by healing some of the physical scars resulting from the initial build-out of automobile highways. Freeway Park’s layered array of winding, concrete paths and terraces dared to postulate that areas above and around freeways could be wonderful places too, a direct rebuke to much of that era’s urban planning regimes. A question for today is whether some of the most lasting effects of that era—grit, grime, and yes, darkness—have a place in the urban parks of tomorrow.
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Cultural Landscape Foundation announces 2017 Stewardship Excellence Awards

The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) has announced the recipients of the 2017 Stewardship Excellence Awards, an annual award aimed at promoting organizations that “connect people to places” in accordance with TCLF’s mission statement. This year, TCLF has honored two West Coast-based preservation groups—the Halprin Landscape Conservancy in Portland, Oregon and The Sea Ranch Association in Sea Ranch, California—that focus on “promoting sound stewardship” of works by the seminal late modernist landscape architect Lawrence Halprin. By highlighting Halprin’s legacy, TCLF is acknowledging changing trends in contemporary landscape and architectural preservation efforts, which in recent years have shifted in focus from works of the 1950s and early 1960s toward the preservation of buildings, landscapes, and interiors from 1965 and on. Charles A. Birnbaum, TCLF’s president & CEO said in a statement, “Lawrence Halprin’s built legacy is revolutionary, influential, and extremely fragile,” adding, “its future is dependent on well-informed, proactive stewardship.” The Halprin Landscape Conservancy was founded in 2006 and, via a series of public-private partnerships, is now fully recognized by the City of Portland as a major steward of the city’s iconic landscapes. In 2013, the organization successfully undertook a “conditions assessment report” for Halprin’s Sequence of Open Spaces, an effort that resulted in its listing in the National Register of Historic Places, according to TCLF. In the years since, the group has also led efforts to restore Halprin’s Lovejoy Plaza, successfully thinned and trimmed trees at Halprin’s Pettygrove Park, and completed a $2.15 million local improvement district in Portland focused on the Open Space Sequence. The Sea Ranch Association, in turn, has been in existence since the iconic Northern California development’s founding in 1965 and is tasked to serve as “stewards for the conservation and enhancement of the environment and administer Sea Ranch affairs.” The association utilizes a set of restrictive covenants and design review processes to limit and guide development and upgrades at the community, including efforts aimed at documenting and interpreting the site for future generations. Via email, Birnbaum told The Architect’s Newspaper, "This year’s Stewardship Excellence honorees provide both the inspiration and the roadmap for success for other individuals and organizations seeking to secure the future of our cultural landscape legacy.” The honorees will be recognized in October during the opening reception for The Landscape Architecture of Lawrence Halprin exhibition at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles, CA.
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Lawrence Halprin’s Freeway Park in Seattle to undergo wayfinding-focused renovation

Seattle's Freeway Park, a pioneering work of modernist landscape architecture by Lawrence Halprin and Angela Danadjieva that is widely recognized as the world’s first freeway cap park, is preparing to undergo a series of wayfinding-oriented renovations over coming months. The renovations are being undertaken by the Freeway Park Association (FPA)—a nonprofit organization created in 1993 “in response to the community’s demand for greater public safety in their aging neighborhood park.” The FPA recently completed a RFP for the project and hired Seattle-based landscape architects SiteWorkshop to perform the improvements and proposed alterations to the iconic Brutalist park. The 5.2-acre park opened on July 4, 1976, spanning over a depressed stretch of Interstate-5 in downtown Seattle. The park was expanded over the years, including the construction of a major addition in the 1980s and implementation of a tree canopy minimization plan in 2005; the original designers remained involved variously throughout these changes. When originally built, Danadjieva’s and Halprin’s designs symbolized the city’s effort to weave highway-adjacent areas back together following the route’s destructive beginnings. As a result, the park is organized as a web of stepped and zig-zagging walkways and terraces that surround a central walking path directly above the depressed highway. These walkways link the central path to formal park entrances, lawns, and plazas that are scattered on surrounding blocks and footholds. These areas are individually programmed to provide various types of leisure spaces. Architecturally-speaking, the park’s hardscapes are of their time and follow a Brutalist material palette. Throughout, the park features board-formed concrete surfaces—Halprin envisioned the park as a type of “freeway vernacular” that was inspired by and built from freeway-associated forms and materials—that become the retaining walls, planters, and knee walls that give the park its stark character. These terraces and planters are filled with broadleaf trees and shrubbery in mounds that rise and fall according to the surrounding natural and human-made geographies.
The park is also well-known for a magnificent cascading raw concrete fountain that originally emptied into a deep pool that park-goers used as a swimming hole. The fountain’s steep and angular surfaces are based on the abstracted geologic forms of western mountain ranges and the fountain bears much resemblance to the Ira Keller Fountain designed by Halprin and Danadjieva in Portland, Oregon.   At the time of design and construction of Freeway Park, Danadjieva was a project manager at Halprin’s office; the scheme was carried out by the firm with assistance from Peterson Landscape Architects. One big issue with the contemporary park is a byproduct of its “freeway vernacular” aesthetic and site arrangement: many of the park’s formal entrances are located behind blind corners, at the feet of steep staircases, and without direct sightlines through the park’s interior spaces. Further, Halprin pursued a landscape-based narrative strategy for arranging the park’s interior rooms that has resulted in closed-off spaces, as well as picturesque arrangements. These former qualities are seen by FPA and some in the community as opportunities for crime. As a response, the design team has been tasked with not only increasing wayfinding strategies within the park to highlight paths but also with transforming each of the park’s 12 main entrances into urban beacons that use signage, pavement graphics, and other placemaking approaches. There are concerns regarding how far some of these changes might go and which aspects of the park are changeable, given its importance as a work of landscape architecture. At 41 years old, Freeway Park is too young to meet the 50-year age eligibility requirement for the National Register of Historic Places, though it does meet the City of Seattle’s age requirement for historic status. One note—Although Freeway Park is less than 50 years old, it might be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places due to individual and exceptional merit. Pershing Park in Washington, DC by M. Paul Friedberg is such an example. The park is described as “one of the most compelling treatises on post-war landscape architecture” by The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF), an organization that raises awareness about historic landscapes around the United States. Charles Birnbaum, founder of TCLF, said the potential changes should bear in mind that Freeway Park is "not just as a National Register of Historic Places candidate but also a potential National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site." Halprin, always looking forward, was reportedly “enthusiastic and supportive” of upgrades performed to the park’s tree canopy in 2005, according to the Daily Journal of Commerce. Perhaps, the designers will take a page from Halprin himself and embrace some of the park’s rougher qualities, following a line from the designer’s 1966 book, Freeways, where he writes, "The trick is to perceive the old freeway as a part of the cityscape and tame it, rather than complain about it." For now, FPA is engaging in community outreach to ascertain which aspects of the park nearby residents want to see amplified and upgraded. The organizers held a public meeting last week, with more scheduled throughout the summer. For more information, see the FPA website.   This post has been edited with updated information.