City ChoreographerLawrence Halprin in Urban Renewal America

City ChoreographerLawrence Halprin in Urban Renewal America

Alison Bick Hirsch

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780816679782

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press


Lawrence Halprin (1916-2009) was one of the most influential landscape architects of the 20th-century. Though he is most widely known for the FDR Memorial in Washington DC and the Sea Ranch in California, his creative process – derived in the 1960s from experiments in choreographic scoring – represents an overlooked antecedent to today’s approach to landscape and urban design, which emphasizes infrastructural networks, ecological processes, multidisciplinary collaboration, as well as public participation. Emerging from exhaustive study of his vast archive of drawings and documents (housed at the University of Pennsylvania’s Architectural Archives), the book critically interprets Halprin’s participatory design process and argues for the applicability of aspects of that process in city-shaping today. As an urban pioneer, Halprin’s most noteworthy frontier became the nation’s densely settled metropolitan areas during a time of urban “crisis” and “renewal.” Paralleling and responding to a broader public demand for social and political participation in the 1960s, he formulated this creative process, which he called “The RSVP Cycles,” to stimulate a participatory environmental experience. He did not work alone, however. His success depended on collaboration, and particularly the artistic symbiosis that existed between him and his wife, the avant-garde dancer and choreographer Anna Halprin.