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Abstracting Morphology by JETT Landscape Architecture + Design
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The NorthPoint Apartments, built in 1969 in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood, featured five courtyards designed by the office of Lawrence Halprin, located over podium parking. Half a century later, as the courtyard landscapes had to be replaced due to waterproofing failure, the design team successfully reinvented the project while meeting two aggressive challenges: honoring Halprin’s legacy in a contemporary fashion; and reapportioning common and private spaces to meet changed expectations, within the tight constraints imposed by the original flat-slab construction. The strategy is one of carefully proportioned spaces, animated by finely detailed abstractions of the natural elements of water and stone: an homage to Halprin in the materials he used with such insight. All five courtyards — four fully interior and one at the adjacent property line — share forms and colors that pick up on the language of the surrounding buildings, but are differentiated from one another in their geometry, palette of plant materials, and focal elements.
▲场地环境 – 鸟瞰图及平面图说明，site context – aerial overlay with illustrative plans
五个庭院各具特色，同时又兼顾了统一的形式及色彩语汇。精致的细节继承并丰富了Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons的设计语言。由于既有的楼面不能深挖，设计师将植物景观和水景均进行了抬高，不仅为基础设施和增大的土壤体积提供了充足的空间，更能够起到拦截雨水、减缓径流的作用。项目的目标最终落实在空间上：利用雕塑化的水景、整体的钢制花槽以及树木来强调比例和谐的公共空间，从而使之与更为均质化的私人露台相互区分。
▲从屋顶望向庭院A，旧金山的城市天际线成为背景，view of courtyard A from the roof with the San Francisco skyline backdrop
▲从屋顶望向庭院A，可以看到由混凝土板、考顿钢、混凝土花槽以及游泳池构成的几何状的路面肌理，view of courtyard A from the roof showing geometric paving pattern in concrete topping slab, corten steel and knife edge concrete planters, and pool area
▲庭院A拥有一处由mariposa石板构成的水景、考顿钢花槽以及刀刃状的混凝土围墙，view of courtyard A with mariposa slate water feature, corten steel planter, and knife edge concrete wall detail
▲从屋顶望向庭院A/B，可以看见抛光的玄武岩泻水台，以及混凝土和考顿钢材质的花槽，view of courtyard A/B from the roof with polished basalt clad water tables, concrete and corten metal planters
▲庭院A/B中的水景和抬升的花园，最初由哈普林事务所设计，view of original courtyard A/B water feature and raised planting mounds, designed by halprin’s studio, prior to demolition
▲从屋顶望向以旧金山天际线为背景的庭院B，view of courtyard B from the roof with San Francisco backdrop
▲庭院B的水景装配以模块化的ipe木板，其下方是可调节的支撑系统，view of courtyard B water feature with modular ipe decking over adjustable pedestal system and podocarpus gracilior specimen tree
▲庭院B水景的溢水口，基于哈普林事务所的原始作品而设计，courtyard B water feature spillway, based on original feature design by Lawrence Halprin’s studio
▲庭院B的原始水景和溢水口，由哈普林事务所设计，已拆除，courtyard B original water feature and spillway, designed by Lawrence Halprin’s studio, prior to demolition
▲由屋顶望向庭院C，view of courtyard C from the roof with San Francisco skyline backdrop
▲从入口处望向庭院C，可以看到混凝土路面在色彩和尺度上的变化（浇筑于多孔混凝土填充物），view of courtyard C from entrance, showing variation of color and scale in concrete topping slab (poured over aerated concrete fill)
▲庭院C的水景雕塑、混凝土座椅围墙以及欧洲山毛榉植物景观，view of courtyard C sculptural stone water feature, concrete seat walls, and fagus sylvatica ‘roseomarginata’
▲庭院D的玄武岩水景、混凝土围墙以及榔榆植物景观，view of courtyard D linear basalt water feature, knife edge concrete wall detail, and ulmus parvifolia
▲庭院B中水景旁的二乔玉兰恰逢晚冬花期，开放在裸露的枝头，view of courtyard B magnolia x soulangeana displaying typical late winter bloom on bare branches, with water feature in background
This project comprises the redesign of five courtyards over podium parking, as part of a major renovation of an apartment complex originally constructed in 1969 in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. The original courtyard landscapes, designed by the office of Lawrence Halprin, had to be removed because of the failure of the decades-old waterproofing systems, which threatened the building structure as a whole. All five courtyards—four fully internal, the fifth at an adjacent property line—provide both common space and individual patios for first-floor apartments. Two of the principal courtyards have swimming pools; the other two have significant water features. The design of the new landscapes was severely constrained by the existing flat-slab construction. Nevertheless, by utilizing existing depressions in the slab, building up new areas, and applying both extensive and intensive green roof planting strategies, the scheme increased the breadth and depth of soil areas to create a rich garden setting in keeping with Halprin’s original design intent. The choreography of raised elements integrated that goal with the larger goal of defining common and private spaces, while at the same time accommodating necessary state-of-the-art waterproofing and infrastructure systems.
The original courtyard landscapes, designed by the office of Lawrence Halprin, had to be removed because of the failure of the decades-old waterproofing systems, which threatened the building structure as a whole. All five courtyards—four fully internal, the fifth at an adjacent property line—provide both common space and individual patios for first-floor apartments. Two of the principal courtyards have swimming pools; the other two have significant water features. At the client’s request, which corresponded with the designer’s philosophy, the new landscapes do not attempt to replicate the original designs by Halprin, but instead are conceived as an homage to him in the elements he combined with such insight: water and stone. As a part of the research undertaken to understand Halprin’s original intent, his project manager was invited to review the new scheme, of which he observed, “You have done a splendid job of maintaining the spirit of the original designs while updating them in both feeling and materials.” Each of the five courtyards has a distinct character, but they are united by a vocabulary of form, color, and refined detail that picks up on and enriches the language of the buildings designed by Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons. Constrained by the slab from going deeper, both planting and water elements are raised up, providing space for infrastructure and increased soil volume to intercept rainfall and slow runoff. Yet the goal is ultimately spatial: separating more equitably defined private patios from well-proportioned common spaces anchored by focal elements —a sculptural water feature, a massive, sculptural steel planter, a tree.
Modifying landscapes designed by iconic figures in the profession is always a challenge. Materials, technology, programs, codes and client tastes all have changed in the past 40+ years, since the original courtyards were designed by Don Carter of Lawrence Halprin’s office. The design team approached the project with sensitivity to the essential components of the original design, and wanted to reference key elements Halprin was known for (water features, stone, metal and plantings, etc.) with a fresh look for the courtyards.
Using the latest construction techniques, a new infrastructure was created, one which increased soil depth and promoted drainage. A custom substrate (soil) blend allowed new plant growth to flourish while a weather-controlled subsurface drip irrigation system conserves water.
The new project is an homage to Halprin’s work while incorporating an updated design with the latest technology. While the original flat-slab construction proved to be a challenge to work with, the design team brought the courtyards up to current code and accessbility standards.
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