It’s time to continue with that APLD conference I attended in a galaxy far, far away . . . oh, wait, I’m getting confused. It’s because on the first day out on the buses, where should we head for our first stop but the Letterman Digital Arts Center (LDAC), home to the flagship office for the Lucasfilm Companies, housing Lucasfilm and LucasArts and other related companies. As Lucasfilm’s recruiting website puts it, ” It’s where a cutting-edge campus meets an historic military base. It’s where a national park meets the big city.”
Opened in 2005, the LDAC was created with sustainability as a primary goal. Many materials from the demolished hospital buildings were recycled for use in constructing the new buildings, which were designed to be both more energy and water-efficient than conventional buildings. And its grounds, designed by famed landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, include areas of lawn underneath which sit large parking garages for employees.
I found the area we visited, shown in these photographs, to be a successful balance of open spaces and designed landscape. (Apparently the grounds are open to the public for picnicking, at least on weekends, and are very popular with San Francisco residents.) A “brook” cuts through the central part of the landscape, with moving water whose speed and intensity varies from location to location. One of our tour leaders told us Halprin had been inspired to include this element because his wife was a dancer.
At the end of the stream is a medium-sized pool with pergola-like structures on one side. To my eye, they were less successful as elements in the landscape (as were some of the shrubs on site), but the area looked as though it was designed with visitors in mind, perhaps especially families with children.
Lawrence Halprin, who died in 2009, was an extraordinary landscape architect. To read more about his career, including his work designing the FDR Memorial in Washington DC, visit the Cultural Landscape Foundation’s website.