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Architect Halprin Says Design Should Satisfy Human Needs

Man-made environments must be designed to satisfy human needs both aesthetically and functionally, landscape architect Lawrence Halprin said yesterday.

Speaking to a crowd of more than 700 in Piper Auditorium at the Graduate School of Design (GSD), Halprin said that environmental planners should not copy nature, but transmute its "emotional qualities" in their designs.

Halprin's lecture opened a three-day national conference commemorating Frederick Law Olmstead, the founder of landscape architecture and environmental planning in the United States.

"The environment is so precious that it must be preserved from not only the bulldozer but from evil spirits as well," Halprin said, adding that the design process can be thought of as an exorcism of evil spirits.

Showing slides of his projects, such as Sea Ranch in California and a series of fountains and plazas in Portland, Ore., Halprin discussed his attempts to relate the topography of human behavior to the natural topography.

Halprin traced the history of archtypal architectural shapes, such as the keyhole, which he called a sacred Indian form. He added that in their presence, people sense their links to the past and future.

A special collection of Olmstead's work will be exhibited at the GSD through May 5.