February 22, 2005

February 19, 2005

Meadow superstar, coming from a farm

Love him or hate him, its hard to resist the conclusion that the President has little care for the institutions of democracy. Whether you think protecting those institutions is more important than other pressing concerns is, of course, a different matter.

February 16, 2005

I'm gonna ride this horse til it bucks me off and I'm forced to shoot it down

Funny article on Slate about 'lofts' -- though I have to point out that the author has it backwards when he says: "Nevertheless, the suburbs still win out over the city as a place to raise a family, because downtown still lacks the amenities that most Americans crave, such as good schools, convenient big-box stores, and, most importantly, a sense of personal space all but impossible in the big city" -- good schools should be the amenity he lists as most important.

February 15, 2005

I'm the Bill O'Reilly of this emcee...

San Francisco-based Lawrence Halprin is one of the most visible landscape architects practicing in America. His most prominent work is probably the FDR memorial in DC (which has just recently been completed, though his design was approved in 1978), but he has done more work on the West Coast, notably including Lovejoy Fountain Plaza in Portland, one of several parks that Halprin did in downtown Portland as part of Portland's urban renewal projects in the late sixties. (I learned something at that website, that two settlers named Lovejoy and Pettygrove flipped a coin to decide whether their small frontier town would be named Portland or Boston -- apparently in an attempt to make it even more difficult to distinguish between Maine and Oregon). Halprin is often to said to have desired to imitate the process of nature without copying the forms of nature. Here's a description of the effect of the park from CLIP (the Contemporary Landscape Somethingoranother): "The multiple levels of the fountain generate unpredictable rhythms. The water cascading down it is constantly creating different sound patterns forming small counter rhythms. Near the edges of the site the cascades of the Fountain create a series of sounds that can be persistently heard down the length of the corridor. The entire site, formed in hammered aggregate concrete, is consistent with the paving patterns of the rest of the downtown open space network. The steps, fountain, and pool are all created with straight lines and angles forming a sense of relatedness of things." Nature. Urban. Right.


Lovejoy

Another interesting project that Halprin worked on is Skyline Park in Denver. Its a linear park, stretching about three blocks, I believe.


Skyline

Halprin did a good bit of work with regional planning and urban renewal, but its easiest to find information on the parks he worked on and eatingbark is all about the ease of acquistion. Parks are often the most creative work that landscape architects do, so they're probably good examples. Other celebrated projects by Halprin include Ghirardelli Square and Levi's Plaza in San Francisco, Sea Ranch on Northern California's Sonoma coast, Auditorium Forecourt Plaza in Portland (done in the same period as Lovejoy Fountain Plaza), Freeway Park in Seattle, and the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem. Halprin is generally considered a modernist, which should be understood in the same way as you might understand "modernist" if someone used it to describe Rem Koolhaas or Frank Gehry.

If you're really into Halprin now, this profile isn't bad or terribly boring. Halprin also wrote a couple of books, notably The City (or Cities, I can't remember now) and The Freeway in the City.