City Choreographer

City Choreographer: Lawrence Halprin in Urban Renewal America

ALISON BICK HIRSCH
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctt7zw6km
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  • Book Info
    City Choreographer
    Book Description:

    One of the most prolific and influential landscape architects of the twentieth century, Lawrence Halprin (1916-2009) was best known for the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C., and Sea Ranch, the iconic planned community in California. These projects, as well as vibrant public spaces throughout the country-from Ghirardelli Square and Market Street in San Francisco to Lovejoy Fountain Park in Portland and Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis-grew out of a participatory design process that was central to Halprin's work and is proving ever more relevant to urban design today.

    InCity Choreographer, urban designer and historian Alison Bick Hirsch explains and interprets this creative process, called the RSVP Cycles, referring to the four components: resources, score, valuation, and performance. With access to a vast archive of drawings and documents, Hirsch provides the first close-up look at how Halprin changed our ideas about urban landscapes. As an urban pioneer, he found his frontier in the nation's densely settled metropolitan areas during the 1960s. Blurring the line between observer and participant, he sought a way to bring openness to the rigidly controlled worlds of architectural modernism and urban renewal. With his wife, Anna, a renowned avant-garde dancer and choreographer, Halprin organized workshops involving artists, dancers, and interested citizens that produced "scores," which then informed his designs.

    City Choreographersituates Halprin within the larger social, artistic, and environmental ferment of the 1960s and 1970s. In doing so, it demonstrates his profound impact on the shape of landscape architecture and his work's widening reach into urban and regional development and contemporary concerns of sustainability.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4096-0
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xiii)
  4. INTRODUCTION SCORING THE PARTICIPATORY CITY
    (pp. 1-23)

    LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT LAWRENCE HALPRIN’S nearly sixty-five-year career reflects the story of postwar American urban development—from his residential work in the booming Pacific coast suburbs, to his designs for regional shopping malls as substitutes for downtown public life, to his counterattempts to restore the social life of the city after disorienting change, primarily caused by federal policies such as Title I of the Housing Act of 1949 and the Highway Act of 1956. After vast swaths of central cities were razed, severing deep roots that had grounded communities in their physical environment, new and unfamiliar landscapes rapidly appeared that altered...

  5. 1. THE CREATIVE ORIGINS OF LARRY AND ANNA HALPRIN
    (pp. 25-60)

    LAWRENCE HALPRIN was born July 1, 1916, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. The social concerns that distinguish his career were founded on family values. His mother, Rose Luria Halprin, worked with the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Hadassah, and served as its president for multiple terms beginning in 1932. Her tireless activism would shape Halprin’s childhood experience and inform his lifelong pursuits. His father, Samuel W. Halprin, initially owned a wholesale women’s clothing business, but later became president of a scientific instruments export firm that traded between the United States and what was then the struggling Jewish population...

  6. PART I. BUILT WORK
    • 2. FRAMING CIVIC RITUALS MARKET STREET, NICOLLET MALL, HERITAGE PARK PLAZA
      (pp. 63-115)

      PART I ON LAWRENCE HALPRIN’S BUILT WORK focuses less on formal products than on the process that generated them, as well as how those forms invited human interaction and enhanced public life in cities undergoing urban renewal. To stimulate this participatory response, Halprin searched for “archetypal forms” or Resources (R) fundamental to all urban inhabitants—which he discovered in nature and human ritual.

      More specifically, “built work” implies the tangible embodiment of Halprin’s choreographic concepts at two scales: first, the intimate experiences created by designed elements in the landscape and their ability to provoke or stimulate a range of sensory...

    • 3. DESIGNING WITH NATURE AS “ARCHETYPAL PRECEDENT” PORTLAND OPEN SPACE SEQUENCE, SEATTLE FREEWAY PARK, MANHATTAN SQUARE PARK
      (pp. 117-182)

      RITUALS ARE REPEATED AND COLLECTIVE PERFORMANCE EVENTS. Yet Lawrence Halprin’s designs act as the stage (and choreography) for the theater of everyday life, composed of both the consistency of what he calls “living rituals” and the chance occurrences or happenings that are indeterminate but just as significant to full urban experience. By looking to “natural form-making” (particularly erosion) as precedent for design generation, Halprin hoped to create environments that would trigger the kind of unexpected and uncontrolled encounters one might have in “raw” and “elemental” places such as the High Sierra and the Sonoma coast.

      Thus in addition to reoccurring...

  7. PART II. COMMUNITY WORKSHOPS
    • 4. THE TAKE PART PROCESS LAWRENCE HALPRIN & ASSOCIATES IN PARTICIPATORY DESIGN
      (pp. 185-207)

      WHILE LAWRENCE HALPRIN applied the choreographic concept of “open scores” to design public spaces that stimulated movement response and enhanced opportunities for choice, chance, encounter, and exchange, he used the same concept to structure his participatory workshops. His Take Part Process (Figure 4.1) responded to the fierce demands for participation expressed in the mass public mobilizations of the 1960s—protests, demonstrations, rallies, and riots. As cities across the nation erupted in violence largely in reaction to institutionalized racism physically manifested by discriminatory redevelopment policies, urban renewal programs became increasingly suspect.¹ President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” programs and his “War on...

    • 5. FACILITATION AND/OR MANIPULATION THE CHALLENGES OF TAKING PART IN FORT WORTH, EVERETT, CHARLOTTESVILLE, AND CLEVELAND
      (pp. 209-265)

      THE COMMUNITY WORKSHOPS in Fort Worth, Texas; Everett, Washington; Charlottesville, Virginia; and Cleveland, Ohio, conducted by Lawrence Halprin & Associates represent the most complex application of the participatory process. The workshops in each of these cities presented different challenges and achieved varying levels of success. The firm conducted other Take Part Processes during the early 1970s in Wilmington, Delaware (regarding the redesign of the city’s major retail corridor, Market Street); Morningside Heights, Harlem (for resolution of a long-standing conflict between Columbia University and neighborhood residents over Morningside Park);¹ and Tulsa, Oklahoma (particularly focused on the development of an open space...

  8. CONCLUSION CHOREOGRAPHY AND THE CONTEMPORARY CITY
    (pp. 267-272)

    THOUGH SOME MIGHT CLAIM that Lawrence Halprin’s work is outdated, there is much to be learned from his ability to translate social consciousness into design action, particularly at a time that is again defined by discontinuity, disturbance, and unrest. With today’s renewed global insistence on participatory democracy expressed in events such as the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement, much of which has been catalyzed by the explosive growth of social media, the city once again has become a proper stage for public performance and collective ritual, making Halprin’s relevance even more acute.

    Scores, implying movement, process, and change, are...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 273-313)
  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 314-327)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 328-336)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 337-337)