Open Space Sequence
Portland, United States
Lawrence Halprin & Associates
Between the straight lines and the hard concrete of Portland, the gargling, clattering, rustling and dripping of water evokes wild nature
|In the Ira Keller Fountain, Halprin translated the streams and rocks of the High Sierra Mountains into a succession of meters high concrete, angular shapes, basins, and plates where water flows over and clatters down. (Image: Sebastiaan Kaal)
|Lawrence Halprin had his own way of analysing, by walking and drawing. (Image: Lawrence Halprin)
|Sketch design of Pettygrove Park. (Image: Lawrence Halprin)
|Pine trees on top of the Ira Keller Fountain. (Image: Sebastiaan Kaal)
|The Lovejoy Fountain is an abstraction of mountain ridges and waterfalls. (Image: Sebastiaan Kaal)
|Pettygrove Park looks like a rolling hilly landscape. (Image: Sebastiaan Kaal)
The landscape of Oregon and the nearby waterfalls and mountains of the High Sierra Mountains are iconic landscapes that occur frequently in literature, poetry and painting. This area is a popular holiday destination for many Portland residents. Landscape architect Lawrence Halprin also enjoyed coming here with his family.
His office, Lawrence Halprin & Associates, designed an important new public space in the city in the 1970s. The plan - the Open Space Sequence, a succession of four squares and parks - was part of a major urban renewal. From the 1960s, no fewer than forty blocks in the dilapidated South Auditorium District made way for homes for the middle class, offices and shops.
Lawrence Halprin had his own way of analyzing: not by overlapping cards, but by walking and drawing. His sketchbooks are full of perceptions: the forms of erosion, the shadow effect on a mountain wall, the gargling, bubbling or sizzling of water. Halprin was of the opinion that a public space design should relate to natural processes, but should never be a servile imitation of this. For the Open Space Sequence, that view resulted in a bold use of landscape images based on the Oregon landscape.
In his design for the Ira Keller Fountain (the high point of the Open Space Sequence), Halprin translated the streams of water and rocks of the High Sierra Mountains into a succession of meters high concrete, angular shapes, basins and plates where water flows over and clatters downwards. As the fountain can be entered, visitors get the experience of a mountain hike - the temperature and sound of the water, the tension and the danger of climbing. The nearby Lovejoy Fountain is an abstraction of mountain ridges and waterfalls, Pettygrove Park looks like a rolling hilly landscape and The Source Fountain is the mountain source that supplies the other fountains with water.
It is clear to everyone that these fountains and squares are not true, wild nature. But with the eyes closed that experience can change. Then we hear water clatter, we feel the fresh vapor, we smell the pine needles. In the rigid street pattern of Portland, the squares provide a rich, sensory experience.