A Life Spent Changing Places

“The remark that ‘every great artist inhabits a genre and remakes it’ could find no better proof than in the life and work of Lawrence Halprin,” writes renowned landscape architect Laurie Olin in his foreward to A Life Spent Changing Places. Halprin (1916-2009) was amongst the most influential landscape architects of his generation. A visionary, he redefined the perception of public spaces in cities. Best known for his sensitive master plans and urban rejuvenation projects, his exuberant plazas and parks form joyful settings for public life.

In this deeply insightful book, Halprin traces his design journey by documenting personal and professional milestones. He also provides a glimpse into his creative processes. Halprin recognized that, “Psychology provided important resources for design as well as life.” People’s engagement with landscapes were the focus of his work and the book reflects this approach. The narrative is strewn with Halprin’s vivid and inimitable sketches which pulsate with life, much like the spaces he created. Another crucial aspect to Halprin’s work, and thus to the book, is his lifelong creative collaboration with wife and acclaimed avant-garde dancer, Anna Halprin. An instance of the synergy that profoundly impacted his projects is the famous RSVP (resources, score, valuation and performance) cycle.

Sea Ranch, a community in Northern California, finds significant mention in this book. This remarkable project that Halprin planned and remained connected to throughout his professional life reflected his ecological ideals ‘to live lightly on land.’ It was also the venue for his experimental workshops. Halprin highlights the participatory approach of all of his projects including The FDR Memorial dedicated to President Franklin D Roosevelt, Yosemite Falls and the renovation of Stern Grove Park — all of which he was involved with in the final decades of his life.

A fitting finale to a brilliant career, this book will be treasured by landscape architects, designers, environmentalists, students and general readers with an interest in design. This exceptional book was also awarded the JB Jackson Book Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies in 2012.


Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2011
Author: Lawrence Halprin
ISBN: 978-0-8122-4263-8
Price: Rs 2,063
Availability:  Flipkart

Some images  from the book…