Lawrence Halprin

“Combine, as much as possible, life with work – and by work I mean creativity.”

Lawrence Halprin at Levi's Plaza

Lawrence Halprin, a legend in our profession, died on Sunday at the age of 93.

Along with many other projects, he designed the FDR Memorial in DC, the approach to Yosemite Falls for the National Park Service, Sea Ranch in California, Levi’s Plaza in SF, and the original Skyline Park in Denver (a piece of his fountain still remains at the north end).  He was a great promoter of landscape architecture and we owe him a lot for improving the visibility of the profession. Below are a few opportunities to get to know Lawrence Halprin better:

Watch an interview.

Read about his life in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Go to his facebook page.

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Some Quotes from Lawrence Halprin:

“And I think one of the tasks that I always feel is how to get that vision out of them. Not exactly what they want, but what they want to accomplish for themselves or their community or their family.

“Because one of the benefits of getting older, I guess-there are very few benefits, really – most of them are a pain in the butt. People depend on me more; they believe in me more, they think I’m good.

“Because over and over again, the times that I’ve done really good things is because I’ve had a wonderful client of some kind, and a lot of it depended on me to induce them to be creative.

“Because the quality of living with nature and allowing it to manifest itself is different than the quality of living in a city, especially a dense city.

“Let me just say something that I forgot, I also hoped and this was very true in the beginning – that this would also be a place that people would be able to walk into the fountain and use it in a nice way of reading and examining the quotations on the blocks.

“Of all the Jedis I saw in the film, Yoda’s the only one I like.

“The whole memorial is for different senses… seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling. I probably would have come up with something different if I had not lived through it.

“Then I sit down, work at it, because now I have a convincing feeling about what that place wants to be, you see? And it’s not just me. Me and my talent comes in taking that consensus and then making something wonderful out of it – a work of art.”


  1. I had the opportunity to hear Halprin speak in 1987 and then again in 2007 and both times were incredibly inspiring and memorable. He had an energy and sparkle about him that could fill a room. I was always intrigued by his desire to understand and explore the creative process. He tried to document the creative process through his writings on the RSVP cycle; and while I’m not sure how successful he was in his end product, I appreciate his exploration. I also love how much his life and work were tied to the creative work of his wife; an accomplished dancer and teacher of creative movement. Here are two related links – the first on the rsvp cycles; the second on Anna Halprin (the sketch on the home page says it all)

  2. Thanks for the great info Laura. I’m a huge fan of dance and take a lot of dance lessons myself and think about space relative to how we move through it. Antoine Predock is another designer influence by dance. Its hard to capture that in a plan view.

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