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Posts Tagged ‘halprin’

Landscape Architecture by Bicycle

Levis Plaza

Next Sunday the 22nd, Anita will be leading a bicycle tour of a few landscape architecture projects in San Francisco. The tour goes to two hugely influential and historic projects, Levi’s Plaza pictured above, and Crissy Field, along with several other compelling spaces. You may already know these places, but this is your opportunity to see them with a beautiful and knowledgeable guide.

DETAILS:

What: Casual bike tour from the Embarcadero winding through downtown to Crissy Field

When: 9AM to noon, April 22, 2012

Where: Meet under the clock outside the Embarcadero Ferry Building

Cost: FREE! but must RSVP to contact below

Contact: Anita Bueno, abueno@asla-ncc.org, 510-282-4918

Rain cancels, call to confirm

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

Along with the north coast, I went to Yosemite several times in the last couple months. Absolutely amazing place, as the millions of people who visit all know. I used to be bothered by the crowds, but I’ve learned to navigate the park and appreciate it without feeling bothered by them. Bringing my bicycle with me has helped immeasurably. The Valley’s a beautiful, flat place to ride around in, and a bicycle is the key to avoiding the daily traffic jams. (The park service really needs to figure out a way to get people parking outside the valley and just using bikes and shuttle buses inside. I’m skeptical it will ever happen, but I can dream, right?) Climbing has also helped me love the valley. Obviously because the climbing is so incredible, but also because I’ve ended up spending longer periods of time sitting and staring. And not just on the climbs. Most days I would meet up with my climbing partner at the bicycle parking at Lower Yosemite Falls, and while I waited for him, I started to really appreciate the effect that the view of the the falls has for people.

Yosemite Falls

It’s the tallest falls in North America, 2,425 feet, and probably the most viewed and photographed. Lawrence Halprin redesigned the approach trail and picnic area a few years ago, and there is a lot of stonework done by the same company that did all the stonework at Stern Grove. I don’t really remember what the approach was like before the redesign and I couldn’t find any before photos of the project online, but I remember a parking lot and a lot of crumbling asphalt. I’m pretty sure the almost French-style view of the falls was already cleared, but possibly with trees starting to grow back in and obscure it again. The redesign took out the parking area, made the trail into a loop, and rehabbed a lot of degraded habitat areas. The park service has a summary of the project.

Yosemite Falls

There’s a photo of the approach here. I can’t count how many times I heard people say, ‘Wow.’ Below is a photo from the other side of the valley.

View from 4 Mile Trail

Stern Grove

Stern Grove

View from the Stage, click to enlarge

‘I wanted it to have the feeling of being in one of the great Greek amphitheaters,’ Lawrence Halprin

Last month I went to Stern Grove and took some photos. I’d been there during concerts, but I wanted to check it out without all the crowds. It didn’t disappoint. It’s a great space, with awesome stonework, and worth visiting even when there isn’t a concert happening. I wasn’t expecting to see anyone there, but an impressive number of people passed through the space, even though it was a rainy Sunday morning. I’d always thought of it as a theatre, but it actually works quite nicely as a park, too.

View from the West

The Grove has been a park and concert space since the 1930′s, but the stonework is all from about 5 years ago when Lawrence Halprin led a big renovation. Before the renovation it was just a natural amphitheater, and everyone would slowly slide downhill while they listened to music. Halprin terraced the slope and turned it into a proper Greek theater. My impression of him was that he tended to just make things up, but the design at the Grove is actually quite true to the style of the Greeks, with appropriate stonework and other detailing. Even the plan, which is rather free-form, is in keeping with the old Greeks’ appreciation for natural topography. One theater in particular, Thorikos, has a plan that reminds me of Stern Grove. (more…)