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Posts Tagged ‘Sea Ranch’

BY ZACH MORTICE

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Sea Ranch, in Northern California, seems to have always existed, emerging from the Pacific Coast cliffs like sun-dappled lichens spread across the rocks. But it was like little else people had seen when it was built by a supergroup of designers, developers, and artists in the early 1960s.

A new website is pulling back the curtain on how this masterpiece came to be. “Journey to the Sea Ranch” holds more than 800 digitized images from the Environmental Design Archives of the University of California, Berkeley, and the Architectural Archives at the University of Pennsylvania to tell the story of how Sea Ranch was conceived and built. (more…)

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REVIEWED BY JUSTIN PARSCHER 

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

In their continual search for respect, recognition, and equal pay, landscape architects find themselves in a quandary. On one hand, they understand that credit attaches itself to authors, masters with distinct visions and styles, and are forever writing letters to the editor to assert that the city didn’t do it—the landscape architect did. They celebrate acting as project leads, not only because it validates their way of working, but because the project lead can safely be given final credit. However, having toiled so long in subsidiary roles, landscape architects are also mindful of the networks of expertise that actually form ambitious designs, particularly in the public realm. A chain of public officials, architects, structural and civil engineers, ecologists, lighting designers, and community members all contribute to the shape of the place, which is naturally also conditioned by social and environmental realities on the ground.

The urban historian Alison Isenberg’s Designing San Francisco is, among its many other virtues, a vital text for helping landscape architects think through this dilemma. Isenberg’s book focuses on (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

“Driftwood Village—Community,” Sea Ranch, California. Experiments in Environment Workshop, July 6, 1968.

Put away your tracing paper and charcoal pencils. Shut your books. Stop thinking. Put on a blindfold and go for a walk in the woods. Make a structure out of yourselves, human bodies. Catalog everything that you see, hear, feel, and smell. Build a city out of beachside driftwood in complete silence. Take off your clothes. Now start thinking about design.

You could call these instructions those of a thought experiment. They came from Anna and Lawrence Halprin’s workshops, held in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s and 1970s. But that was not the point. The Halprins held weeks-long events that took landscape architects, architects, artists, and dancers to redwood forests, expansive beaches, and into the city of San Francisco and asked them to shed all theory and dogma so they could explore and interpret their environment totally through sensory experience.

A new exhibition at Chicago’s Graham Foundation, up until Dec. 13, has assembled the Halprins’ extensive documentation of their Experiments in Environment workshops. The show is done in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania, where Halprin’s archives are held. Put together in just months, Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966–1971 is the first ever serious exhibition into the Halprin workshops.

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