Sigmund Stern Grove is a 33-acre public park in San Francisco ‘s Sunset District that hosts a natural amphitheater set among giant eucalyptus, redwood and fir trees. Over the past 68 years, it has become one of Northern California’s favorite concert sites, offering free summertime musical performances on Sundays through the Stern Grove Festival Association.After nearly seven decades of concerts and more than six million visitors, the park needed a major facelift. In the fall of 1999, the Stern Grove Festival Association hired renowned landscape architect Lawrence Halprin to design a plan for the renovation of Stern Grove. Halprin recommended longtime partner QuarryHouse to build an amphitheater that would seat 10,000 and endure for 1,000 years, rivaling the great architecture of the Romans. QuarryHouse founder Ed Westbrook searched quarries in Canada , Mexico and China for suitable stone before selecting a small rural quarry in the Shandong Province of China. Westbrook worked with 75 local villagers to select 326 boulders, and hand split over 2500 tons of granite.Under a tight eight-month production timeline, a QuarryHouse crew of 30 stonemasons painstakingly hand carved stones to fit into the hillside structure like an intricate puzzle, using age-old methods of hand chiseling, feathers and wedges. The end result is an amphitheater that provides concertgoers with comfortable seating and unobstructed views of performers, yet blends seamlessly with the tranquil outdoor setting.
- David Elkington: Project Manager
- Jason Joplin: Superintendent
- Edward Westbrook: Principal in Charge/ Overseas management
|The Office of Lawrence Halprin||Lawrence Halprin (In memoriam)|
|Stern Grove Festival||http://www.sterngrove.org/home/about/historyandmission/renovation|
|Hamilton & Aiken Architects||http://www.hamiltonaitken.com/projects/public/sterngrove|
|Vance Brown Builders||http://www.vancebrown.com/sterngrove.html|
Early Drawings by Lawrence Halprin which guided the team in China in selecting the stone.
Detailed drawings and models made it possible to work in the tight timeline for opening day.
The quarry in china spread over 100 acres and included massive stones that you see here.
Ed Westbrook works with the quarry master to select boulders that match Halprin’s sketches.
The Chinese team studying Halprin’s sketches, to communicate with the quarrymen, they developed a unique pictogram chart that made clear the sizes and sculptural shapes for the boulders.
Mr. Yu, the quarry master laying out the complex shapes of a ziggurat with stones that weigh as much as four tons.
The China team assembling one of the ziggurats, by preassembling the complex pieces and shaping stones where possible we cut down the time for construction in the U.S.
The proud China team from left to right, Wenbiao Chen, Lao Yu, Edward Westbrook, Charles Ragen, Xiaokun Wang, Zhang San, Xinwu Chen.
QuarryHouse Foreman, Jason Joplin, sets one of the sculptural boulders. The sculptural quality of the boulders was a key element in Halprin’s design, he sketched each boulder as he envisioned it would look, these sketches guided our collections in the Chinese quarries, and later our talented masons used them to help in placing each stone in just the right spot. Mr. Halprin commented that it was as if his drawings came to life.
Working through the winter of 2004/2005 with opening day deadline in June QuarryHouse crews worked in one of the rainiest winters on record, here QuarryHouse Journeyman mason, Dillon Westbrook checks his work. Thousands of tons of stone and boulders had to be shaped and hammered into a work engineered to last over 200 years.
The view across the terraces just before opening day.
Lawrence Halprin’s vision of both a functional amphitheater and a sculpture in stone is realized as you look across the terraces.
A completed ziggurat, sculpture you can sit on!
The terraces with both open grass and paved promenades carry the tradition of the classic Greek Amphitheater, yet recreate it in naturalistic sculptural style that is a signature of Lawrence Halprin’s work.
Lawrence Halprin on the stones of Stern Grove.
Opening day with 13,000 folks.