At long last, we are delighted to bring two of Lawrence’s most esteemed modern architects, former partners Richard Peters and James Williams, together to talk about one of their most significant yet underappreciated buildings in Lawrence: the Babcock Place retirement facility at 1700 Massachusetts Street. Many people in Lawrence barely notice this 7-story Brutalist-inflected structure, built in 1973, mainly because it is hidden behind trees. But those who take the time to study the building will find a well designed composition—a harmonious blend of textured concrete forms sweeping to the sky that has avoided the dated feel of so many other concrete buildings like it. It merits architectural appreciation, and we are very fortunate that Dick and Jim, now in their 80s, are available to provide a retrospective. Both architects are well represented in these pages, having figured in a number of residential properties in Lawrence, but their staggering commercial output has impacted our landscape in ways that are easy to overlook—Babcock Place being just one case in point. Our esteemed architectural historian Dennis Domer has spoken often of the so-called “shadow figures” who have shaped much of what we recognize as midcentury modern architecture. They are legion, but their numbers are dwindling. Join us on May 7th for a rare opportunity to listen to these veteran modern architects discuss their craft.
– Tom, Tim, Dennis & Bill