Lawrence Halprin: Auditorium Forecourt Fountain (Ira Keller), Portland

Landscape Architecture Magazine has a huge 18-page spread on Lawrence Halprin (1916-2009) in the February 2010 issue. It is a great article and you should take a look at it.

For those of you who don’t know the work of Lawrence Halprin, I wanted to share my favorite Halprin project, the Auditorium Forecourt Fountain in Portland. The project is not over 40 years old but it remains one of the most important and well loved modern water features in America. In June 1970, Ada Louise Huxtable of the NYT’s wrote, “On Tuesday, Portland will start the water flowing in the fountains of what may be one of the most important urban spaces since the Renaissance. The word ‘fountains’ requires a little clarification. ‘Waterfalls” would be a more accurate description.” I think today we would refer to it as a ‘water feature’ or a ‘waterscape’ or maybe a ‘water park’.  The word ‘fountain’ is too singular to express this kind of immersive environment or world.

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It is a place where kids and adults can play together.  It is also a place where active and passive experiences can co-exist right next to one another.

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I get the sense in Halprin’s work that he really respects the intelligence of the end user. The spaces challenge people to climb and explore; it is like exploring a natural waterfall or geology. I wish more playgrounds were like this.

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Read More:
Deep Portland history: Lawrence Halprin and Ira Keller

Photo Credit: I found all the images online. Please email me to add photo credits.