In 1984, the City of Pasadena initiated a program to improve its historic Civic Center. Halprin was selected to design an integrated landscape that would complement the architectural style of a newly planned downtown complex, and reflect the heritage of Old Town Pasadena. The result was a six-acre Moorish-influenced landscape that includes pedestrian arcades and a series of terraced public gardens, characterized by decorative paving, lush plantings, a variety of pools, cascades, and water channels, and sculptures by Michael Lucero. The central element is a large courtyard anchored by fountains decorated in hand-painted ceramic tiles by Joyce Kozloff. The sculptures and water channels at Plaza Las Fuentes echo Halprin’s work in downtown Los Angeles.
Plaza Las Fuentes is currently owned by an international property management company that maintains a large portfolio of historic office buildings concentrated in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The landscape appears to be in good condition. The fountains run daily, night lighting is functional, and the plant materials and decorative tiles are well maintained. The sculpture elements do not appear to show the same level of degradation seen at other Halprin landscapes. Therefore, the challenge at Plaza Las Fuentes lies in raising awareness about the significant design team that shaped the complex. Halprin and Moore Ruble Yudell collaborated on an important postmodern design that presents new ideas within a historic urban core. Because the property managers have such a large portfolio, recognition for the Plaza’s designers would get lost online. Therefore, on-site interpretation is preferred. A plaque that recognizes the design team exists at Maguire Gardens in Los Angeles, which was designed during the same period; Plaza Las Fuentes could follow that example.
Finally, Lucero’s sculptures and Kozloff’s tiles are featured on a public art walking tour and in an online public art database hosted by the City of Pasadena. Halprin designed the Plaza specifically to host these artworks, collaborating closely with the artists throughout the process. It would be appropriate to mention his contribution in these well-intentioned public art programs.
Jill Paider, ASMP
Paider has specialized in architectural photography for fifteen years, working in more than 100 countries for advertising agencies, design firms, magazines, and a variety of corporate and private clients. In 2014, she was the first architectural photographer to be awarded the Fulbright Specialist grant on behalf of the United States. Paider has five published photography books on architecture and design, and is a member of the Royal Photographic Society, American Photographic Artists, and on the board of the American Society of Media Photographers. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California.