Thomas House tour midcentury joy

Architect Jim Williams speaks to the Lawrence Modern group Sunday, June 28, 2014.

Architect Jim Williams speaks to the Lawrence Modern group Sunday, June 28, 2014.

One of Lawrence’s hidden gems, the Thomas House, was on full display Sunday, and polished to a high sheen by the current owners, Deb and Ray Rowden. More than 50 Lawrence Modern guests roamed the property, which in its design, siting, landscaping, and casual feel — you could say breeziness — is a fusion of modern ideas that work together beautifully. Architect Jim Williams, 78, gave a very humble talk about his 1967 design, giving much credit to the original owners, Al and Anne Thomas. Anne, in particular, had a clear vision for how the house should be built, Williams said. Like many of Lawrence’s best modern homes, the Thomas House was the work of a young modernist architect inspired by a woman, or perhaps taking direct orders from a woman. You can’t argue with the results.

Hill and house, living together


“No house should ever be on a hill or on anything,” Frank Lloyd Wright famously advised. “It should be of the hill.” Few houses in Lawrence adhere to this Usonian principle better than Deb & Ray Rowden’s home at 1904 Meadowlark Lane in Lawrence, one of our top “Baker’s Dozen” houses. Designed in 1968 by Lawrence architect James Williams, AIA, and landscaped by KU’s first landscape architect, Alton Thomas, the house fulfills the rest of Wright’s decree: “Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.” Come see what this marriage of hill and house has wrought on Sunday, June 29th from 3:00 – 5:00. You won’t be disappointed!

Getting there: From Iowa Street, turn west on Clinton Parkway, right on Lawrence Ave., drive up Marvonne Road and turn right on Meadowlark Lane. Parking will be challenging so please carpool and or park on Marvonne. It is a pleasant short walk up the hill. You will see the Lawrence Modern signs.

We look forward to sharing this special home, the people who designed it, and those who are now the stewards.

Please bring a small treat to share with modern friends.

Snaps from Ron Labinski’s talk at Nunemaker Center

Architect Ron Labinsky talks to the Lawrence Modern group at the Nunemaker Center Feb. 23, 2014

Architect Ron Labinski, FAIA, speaks to the Lawrence Modern group about his design of the Nunemaker Center, February 23, 2014.

Lawrence Modern was honored to have renowned (and retired) architect Ron Labinski, the “father of sports architecture,” speak about his life in architecture at the Nunemaker Center on Sunday, February 23rd. Ron was the first architect to specialize in sports and build an entire division of a large firm around it, HOK Sport. Ron introduced many innovations in sports architecture, but before all that happened he was a young modernist working at the Kansas City firm Kivett & Myers when he got an opportunity to design the Nunemaker Center on the KU campus in 1969. The result was a postmodern exercise in concrete forms that still feels fresh, artistic and contemporary. Well worth checking out if you’re on west campus near the Jayhawk Towers. Thank you Mr. Labinski!

Discover Nunemaker Center Feb. 23


The Nunemaker Center, home to KU’s Honors Program, keeps a low profile. A completely unobtrusive and unremarkable building along Engel Road, it often goes unrecognized by people who’ve lived in Lawrence for years. One reason why is because it is dwarfed by large multi-story buildings nearby, rendering it nearly invisible by comparison. But it is a ballerina among brutes. The unassuming facade hides a revelation inside — a stimulating mix of concrete geometrical shapes, angles and light. As envisioned by Irene Nunemaker, a longtime executive with Avon cosmetics whose generosity made the building possible, the design was to provide an “exciting educational environment” for students. It has indeed done well in that regard. All of which is a bit ironic: it was designed by Ron Labinski, FAIA, an architect regarded as the father of sports facility architecture. But the architecture speaks for itself. It has be seen to be appreciated, or perhaps discovered for the first time.

Lawrence Modern to speak at AIA conference


Lawrence Modern has been invited to present at the 2013 Kansas American Institute of Architects conference at the Holiday Inn in Lawrence, Sept. 12. During our breakout session (3:45 – 5:15) we will explain the purpose of our group, our preservation efforts, and discuss the results of our survey to identify significant mid-century properties in town. For more information about the conference, here is the brochure. Registration is required — here’s the website. We are honored to showcase our mid-century homes and other buildings to AIA architects.

Tom, Bill + Dennis


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