• The Halprin Archives
    University of Pennsylvania-Architectural Archives

“Ritual Group Drawing,” Sea Ranch, CA. Experiments in Environment Workshop, July 8, 1968. Courtesy of Lawrence Halprin Collection, The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania.

In the late 1960s, American landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and avant-garde dance pioneer Anna Halprin organized a series of experimental, cross-disciplinary workshops in San Francisco and along the coast of northern California that brought dancers, architects, environmental designers, artists, and others together in a process designed to facilitate collaboration and group creativity through new approaches to environmental awareness. The workshops served as a training ground for the couple's ongoing research into specific techniques and process for group work known as "RSVP Cycles". Lawrence Halprin's archive, held at The Architectural Archive at the University of Pennsylvania, contains a rich collection of the noted landscape architect's notebooks, drawings, photographs, slides, correspondence, and ephemera related to the collaborative Halprin workshops. A full catalog of these holdings, as well as slide digitization, and audio and video transfers serve as the basis for the exhibition, Experiments in Environment: The Halprin Workshops, 1966-1971.

Anna Halprin (1920-present) is a dancer, choreographer, and pioneer of avant-garde dance. She founded the San Francisco Dancer's Workshop in 1955 and the Tamalpa Institute in 1978. Anna has created 150 full-length performance works, including Trance Dance, City Dance (1965-78); Parades and Changes (1965-67); Circle the Earth (1981); andPlanetary Dance: A Call for Peace (1987). She is the author of three books on her own work and contributed to Taking Part: A Workshop Approach to Collective Creativity (1975) and The RSVP Cycles: Creative Processes in the Human Environment (1969). She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts (1970); the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award (1997); a National Endowment for the Arts “American Masterpieces” award (2008); and the Doris Duke Impact Award (2014), among others. Halprin’s work was included in the 2011 exhibition, West of Center: Art and the Countercultural Experiment, 1965-1977, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, Colorado. In 2014, she performed Festival d’Automne à Paris at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France. Her work is included in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Performance and Design.

Lawrence Halprin (1916-2009) was a leading figure in American landscape architecture, urban design, and environmental planning during the second-half of the twentieth century. Halprin’s best known works include Lovejoy Plaza, Portland, Oregon (1961-67); Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco (1962-68); Sea Ranch, Sonoma County, California (1962-67); Skyline Park, Denver, Colorado (1970-74); the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, D.C. (1976-1997); and Lower Yosemite Falls (2005), among others. He was awarded the AIA Medal for Allied Professions (1964); a presidential appointment to the first National Council on the Arts (1966); the ASLA Gold Medal (1978); and the National Medal of the Arts (2002), among others. Halprin’s publications include Cities (1963); The RSVP Cycles: creative processes in the human environment (1969); Notebooks: 1959-1971 (1972); Taking Part: A Workshop Approach to Collective Creativity (with Jim Burns, 1974); and A Life Spent Changing Place (2011), among others. Lawrence Halprin’s archives are located at The Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania, and his work is included in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

William Whitaker is the curator and collections manager of the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania—one of the leading repositories of architectural records in the world. He has organized and cocurated over thirty exhibitions, including retrospectives on Louis I. Kahn, Lawrence Halprin, Robert LeRicolais, Antonin and Noemi Raymond, and most recently Wharton Esherick. In addition, he directed research for the landmark retrospective Out of the Ordinary: The Architecture and Design of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown & Associates, organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2000. Trained as an architect, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of New Mexico and his master's from the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches as a visiting lecturer in the Historic Preservation and History of Art Departments.

The Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania preserves the works of more than 400 designers from the eighteenth century to the present. The research collections in the archives are available to faculty, students, and scholars for independent study as well as to support teaching in the University of Pennsylvania and other institutions. The archives facility in the lower level of the Fisher Fine Arts Building houses the Kroiz exhibition gallery, a specialized library, reading room, and seminar room, as well as storage and processing facilities.