I am writing this to ask you to clear up an inaccuracy that was presented in your paper last week concerning the designer of Park Central Square in Springfield. In this letter I was credited with being the primary designer of the square.
The only one who can professionally be credited with the project design is Lawrence Halprin. While very flattering to be credited with design, this is not true. I was an architect on the staff of the Halprin office at the time. The Halprin office was hired based on his national reputation for innovative landscape architecture, to design the improvements to the existing bleak, traffic, ridden square. The Halprin office was a large office and as such Halprin could not be expected to do all of the work on every project. My role as project manager/ designer was to, with a small team, execute the job within the Halprin design vernacular. Halprin had been developing this vernacular over the preceding twenty years. I made several trips to Springfield to gather information and to present the work to city staff members and members of the downtown association. Halprin was deeply involved in the Springfield project and every other project in the office from the initial conceptual meetings where the design concepts were established and throughout the life of the project. All my work was supervised by Halprin and one or more of his partners in formal and informal meetings. Park Central Square is most definitely a Halprin project.
It is completely understandable that few drawings in Halprin's hand were found in the Halprin archives. At the time there was no organized system for retaining drawings during and after the life of the project. We also had very limited amounts of flat file drawer
storage space and thus could be ruthless in discarding drawings. Halprin's conceptual design contributions would have been in sketch form on very fragile tracing paper, which often did not survive due simply to its fragility. They also could have been discarded after the
ideas they expressed were incorporated in the more precise drawings.
I would also like to add that judging from the pictures in the
article the Square has been very well maintained and has aged extremely well. It appears to have a lot of life left in it. The Square is a very good example of the work of Lawrence Halprin and is certainly worthy of being designated a historic landmark.
469 Mississippi St.
San Francisco CA 9417