During the early 1980s, The Maguire Partners, a Los Angeles developer, commissioned Halprin to design a grand boulevard through the city’s downtown. Though the boulevard was never completed, Halprin did collaborate with the developer and architect, Charles Moore, to design a collection of four parks and civic spaces along Hope Street: Crocker Court, Bunker Hill Steps, Maguire Gardens, and Grand Hope Park. Collectively, the landscapes are known as the Los Angeles Open Space Network. In contrast to his projects in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, which frequently suggest crashing waterfalls and tumbling streams, Halprin’s use of water in the Los Angeles projects is subtler and reflective of the region’s drier climate.
The Condition and Visibility ratings applied to the Los Angeles Open Space Network vary somewhat based on the individual sub-landscape. For example, the Condition at Bunker Hill steps is threatened due to recent renovations that removed a central element of Halprin’s design (the rocky ravine that flowed down the steps), while Grand Hope Park has a higher rating due to the continued care and maintenance enacted by The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandizing (FIDM). Yet overall, the condition of the Network is fair to poor. The connectivity between the spaces is not clearly evident to visitors, and multiple small scale changes at Bunker Hill Steps and Maguire Gardens further threaten the cohesive nature of these connected landscapes, which are the career bookend to Halprin’s earlier and better known chain of spaces in Portland several decades earlier. Recognition for Halprin’s role in revitalizing Downtown Los Angeles does not match his oversized contribution.
Alan Ward, FASLA
Ward, a principal at Sasaki in Boston, Massachusetts, is a planner, designer, author, and photographer. His photographs have appeared in more than 200 books and magazines and have been in numerous exhibitions, including the award-winning exhibition Built Landscapes: Gardens of the Northeast. His most recent exhibition Luminous Landscapes, debuted at the National Building Museum in 2016. Ward’s recent landscape design work includes the rehabilitation of the landscape at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.