The drawings of Lawrence Halprin.
Before a design becomes a tangible thing it usually is a drawing first. Drawings become records of our ideas and interpretations of things that we see and think and can sometimes be the quickest way to find form as well as understand space.
As things become more digital, it’s inspiring to look at the analog drawings of the landscape architect, Lawrence Halprin who was known to have a daily drawing practice over the course of his life. For Halprin, drawing was thinking, “People think in different ways and I find that I think most effectively graphically and also that my thinking is influenced a great deal by my ability to get down where I can look at it and think about it further—the process of thinking with me generates more thinking––the notebooks, in other words have not only been a way of ‘recording’ ideas but also of generating’ ideas.”
Many of the ideas that he generated were inspired by the Northern California Coast of The Sea Ranch which he was commissioned to design by Oceanic Properties in the early 1960’s. This stretch of coast was a major source of inspiration for him, and he would go on to fill many pages in his notebooks with visionary ideas about how humans can live in harmony with nature.
His curiosity comes through in the sheer range of visual styles that he explored which were rendered in a variety of materials including watercolor, graphite, pastels, ink, and colored pencil. Some drawings were abstract, and others more detailed and figurative. His studies were not only limited to personal observations but also included professional renderings of plans, perspectives, and elevations and even graphic design. By drawing, Halprin may have also developed a deeper understanding and appreciation for nature which extended into all his work.
Drawings courtesy of Dariah Halprin and the University of Pennsylvania. Words by Dante Iniguez.