Lawrence Halprin founded his firm, Lawrence Halprin & Associates, in 1949 in San Francisco, California. His early employees included Satoru Nishita, Jean Walton, Donald Carter and Richard Vignolo, who were part of a staff that would soon grow to over 60 and later include such names as Charles Moore and Angela Danadjieva. Decidedly smaller beginning in the mid-1970s, the firm would continue to produce a significant body of work until Halprin’s death in 2009.
The firm’s initial work, much of it along the West Coast, took advantage of the post-War demand for residential gardens, small housing developments, campus master plans and shopping centers, and then later evolved to include urban parks and plazas. Early projects include the Sea Ranch Community, Sea Ranch, California; Ghiradelli Square and Embarcadero Plaza, San Francisco; Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall; the Portland Open Space Sequence; and Skyline and Babi Yar Parks in Denver. Later work would take the firm further afield, with projects including the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. and the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem. Lawrence Halprin & Associates’ innovative designs which put equal stock in both artistic expression and ecological sensibility, often rehabilitated blighted urban spaces, and were catalysts for urban renewal. Signature elements included large-scale water features, and terraced landscapes, created from poured-in-place concrete.