Lawrence Halprin

Kenneth I. Helphand

A definitive overview of the renowned American landscape architect's life and work


Lawrence Halprin will be enormously useful to teachers and students of landscape architecture around the world, as well as attractive to professional landscape architects, architects, urban designers, and the educated public.”
—Laurie Olin, FASLA, founding partner of OLIN

“Helphand (emer., Univ. of Oregon) explores biography, design philosophy, and the spirit of the age in illuminating Lawrence Halprin (1916–2009), an influential landscape architect who created some of the most influential and beloved outdoor spaces of the last half of the 20th century.”
—P.A. Mohr, CHOICE Connect


During a career spanning six decades, Lawrence Halprin (1916–2009) became one of the most prolific and outspoken landscape architects of his generation. He took on challenging new project types, developing a multidisciplinary practice while experimenting with adaptive reuse and ecological designs for new shopping malls, freeways, and urban parks. In his lifelong effort to improve the American landscape, Halprin celebrated the creative process as a form of social activism.

A native New Yorker, Halprin earned degrees from Cornell and the University of Wisconsin before completing his design degree at Harvard. In 1945 he joined Thomas Church’s firm, where he collaborated on the iconic Donnell Garden. He opened his own San Francisco office in 1949, where he initially focused on residential commissions in the Bay Area, completing close to three hundred in ten years’ time. By the 1960s the firm had gained recognition for signicant urban renewal projects such as Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco (1962–68), Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis (1962–67), and Freeway Park in Seattle (1970–74). Halprin used his conception of a Sierra stream as the catalyst for the Portland Open Space Sequence, a series of parks featuring great fountains that linked housing and civic space in the inner city.

A charismatic speaker and passionate artist, Halprin designed landscapes that reflected the democratic and participatory ethic characteristic of his era. He communicated his ideas as well in lectures, books, exhibits, and performances. Along with his contemporary Ian McHarg, Halprin was his generation’s great proselytizer for landscape architecture as environmental design. Throughout his long career, he strived to develop poetic and symbolic landscapes that, in his words, could “articulate a culture’s most spiritual values.”

Masters of Modern Landscape Design

Published in association with the Library of American Landscape History

Page count: 256
149 b&w and color photos
Trim size: 7.25 x 9


List price: $26.95

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Kenneth I. Helphand, FASLA, is professor emeritus of landscape architecture at the University of Oregon, where he has taught courses in landscape history, theory, and design since 1974. He is the author of Colorado: Visions of an American Landscape, Yard Street Park: The Design of Suburban Open Space (with Cynthia Girling), Dreaming Gardens: Landscape Architecture and the Making of Modern Israel, and Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime. An honorary member of the Israel Association of Landscape Architects, Helphand is a former editor of Landscape Journal and chair of the Senior Fellows at Dumbarton Oaks.