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Where the Revolution Beganby Randy Gragg
Synopses & Reviews
Between 1963 and 1970, Lawrence Halprin and Associates designed realized the Portland Open Space Sequence — a quartet of public plazas in Portland, Oregon, that redefined the city and set a bold new precedent for urban landscape architecture. Composed of the Lovejoy Fountain, Pettygrove Park, and Forecourt Fountain (latter renamed Ira Keller Fountain), plus the lesser known Source Fountain, the plazas were a dynamic collage of striking concrete forms, gushing water, and alpine flora that, in their seamless mix of nature and theater created a playful metaphorical watershed coursing through the central city.
Where the Revolution Began is the story of how these plazas came to be. Born of the creative experimentation and collaboration between Halprin and his wife, pioneering choreographer/dancer Anna Halprin, the Portland Open Space Sequence came to life in the unlikely setting of the city’s first scrape-and-rebuild urban renewal project. But Halprin defied the conventions of both American urban renewal and midcentury modernism, designing the kind of inviting, exuberant public space that hadn’t been seen since Renaissance Rome’s Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navonna. For Halprin, the plazas became the first step in a career-long exploration of sequential works of landscape design, from the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem to the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. For Portland, Halprin’s work marked the beginning of a tradition of remaking the city around interactive public spaces such as the famed Pioneer Courthouse Square. And for landscape architecture, the plazas laid the earliest foundations for the ecologically and socially responsive urbanism on the rise today.
About the Author
John Beardsley is the director of garden and landscape studies at Dumbarton Oaks and is the author of Gardens of Revelation: Environments by Visionary Artists.
Janice Ross is a professor in the Drama Department and director of the Dance Division at Stanford University. She is the author of Anna Halprin: Experience as Dance.
Randy Gragg is editor of Portland Monthly magazine and has written on architecture for Architectural Record, Metropolis, Preservation, Harper's, and other publications.
Susan Seubert photographs for National Geographic Traveler, Geo Saison, the New York Times, and others. She is a recipient of Life magazine's Alfred Eisenstaedt Award.
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