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A Life Spent Changing Places
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A Life Spent Changing Places

Lawrence Halprin. Foreword by Laurie Olin

280 pages | 8 1/2 x 11 | 102 color, 93 b/w illus.
Cloth 2011 | ISBN 9780812242638 | $47.50s | Outside the Americas £38.00
A volume in the series Penn Studies in Landscape Architecture
View table of contents and excerpt

Winner of the 2012 J. B. Jackson Book Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies

"Richly illustrated with hundreds of never before published photos and sketches, this deeply reflective book by Halprin covers the personal and professional, and in the process sheds light on how the maverick designer helped give places life, while they did the very same for him. In the process, Halprin illustrates how he helped to change the perception and practice of landscape architecture."—The Huffington Post

"The remark that 'every great artist inhabits a genre and remakes it' could find no better proof than in . . . the life and work [of Lawrence Halprin]. He produced a series of masterpieces of iconic stature: Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco; Sea Ranch on the north California coast; the Lovejoy and Ira Keller Fountain sequence in Portland, Oregon; Freeway Park in Seattle, Washington; the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C.; and Stern Grove Theater in San Francisco, to name some of the best known. He knew plants horticulturally and could use them architecturally. Many of his greatest works were executed with humble, ordinary building materials: concrete, asphalt, stucco, wood, soil, and plants. . . . [His ideas have] been so heavily copied and thoroughly absorbed into the vernacular of late twentieth-century urban development that they now appear as cliché. At the time, however, he and his staff were designing and building a new kind of public space."—Laurie Olin, from the Foreword

Landscape architect, urban planner, teacher, and social visionary: over the course of a sixty-year career, Lawrence Halprin (1916-2009) reshaped the spaces we inhabit and our ways of moving through them. The New York Times called him "the tribal elder of American landscape architecture" and the critic Ada Louise Huxtable credited him with creating what "may be one of the most important urban spaces since the Renaissance." His bold use of abstract imagery could evoke the landscape of the American West in a sequence of city squares and fountains, while his plan for repurposing an abandoned factory near San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf showed how adaptive use of a historic structure could turn commercial development into urban theater. A man who deeply loved cities, he left as one of his most important legacies the five thousand acres of coastline, hedgerows, and meadows that became Sonoma County's environmentally sensitive and enormously influential Sea Ranch.

Featuring more than ninety black-and-white and one hundred color reproductions of photographs, plans, and sketchbooks, A Life Spent Changing Places is Halprin's own account of how a young boy who listened to the fireside chats of FDR on the radio became the man who designed the memorial to that president in the nation's capital. It is a book about the invention and reinvention of an extraordinary man over the span of decades and how he helped to reframe the world around him.

A transplanted Brooklynite, Lawrence Halprin began his professional career in San Francisco in 1949, and his work over the next 60 years spanned the country, from Oregon to Virginia. Among his publications are The RSVP Cycles: Creative Processes in the Human Environment (1969) and The Sea Ranch: Diary of an Idea (2003).

Laurie Olin is Practice Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania and Principal of the Olin Partnership, a landscape architecture firm in Philadelphia. He is coauthor of La Foce: A Garden and Landscape in Tuscany and Vizcaya: An American Villa and Its Makers, both available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

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