‘Shadow Figures’ to appear May 7th

Design by Tim Hossler

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 out of sight. But those who take the time to study the building will find 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

Go International Style on Jan. 28th


After finding inspiration in the contemporary architecture presented at the Century of Progress Exposition in 1933, KU history professor James C. Malin designed and built one of the first ‘Modern’ houses in Lawrence. A radically new design in 1930s Kansas, even today the solid concrete ‘fire-safe’ home designed in the International Style might seem more fitting in Miami Beach’s Art Deco District. James, his wife Pearl, and their nine-year-old daughter Jane moved into the house in 1935. The house remained in the family until Jane’s passing in August. The home was recently purchased by our own Tim Hossler and his wife, Ann. As preparations start for restoration and renovation, Tim and Ann have invited Lawrence Modern into the Malin house during this transitional time. This is a rare opportunity to view a time capsule from 1935.

Please join us for a tour of this one-of-a-kind house in Lawrence and celebrate the Malin family who lived in it for more than 80 years. Special guest Kansas historian Virgil Dean will speak on the importance of James C. Malin’s writings and teaching. Tim will talk about the house and their future dreams.

Parking near the house is very limited. Please do not park in the old book store parking lot. It will cost you $180 to get your car back!

We look forward to sharing the afternoon with you on the 28th.

-Tom, Tim, Bill & Dennis

Mass. St. makeover wows Law Mod

The Professional Building tour at 927½ Massachussetts St. was amazing — look at the pictures. Thanks to Sarah Fayman and architects Scott Trettel and clark|huesmann for letting us host the event and orchestrating this stunning renovation. Thanks also to Dennis Domer and Steve Grabow for lending their architectural insight into this fantastic new space in downtown Lawrence. Wow.

Tom, Bill, Dennis & Tim


Architect’s office. (Photo by Justin Kreikemeier)


Conference room. (Photo by Justin Kreikemeier)


Architect Scott Trettel (r), talks about his work at 927½ Mass. St. (Photo by Justin Kreikemeier)


Lounge area. (Photo by Justin Kreikemeier)


Dennis Domer speaks to the Lawrence Modern group. (Photo by Justin Kreikemeier)

Mass. St. modernization Oct. 16


Tim Hossler

It is unusual for Lawrence Modern to stray too far off the midcentury reservation. But a recent visit to Sarah’s Fabrics downtown gave us reason to break loose. Yes, Sarah’s Fabrics, the old Mass. St. quilt shop with the creaky floors. Owner Sarah Fayman, architect Scott Trettle and clark/huesemann architects have transformed the building’s long-neglected upper floors into a case study of modern mixed use. Balancing massive amounts of natural light and enough slick surfaces to send the editors of Dwell magazine into a frenzy, the 10,000-sq. ft. rehab reflects the current trend in architectural design toward sustainability and adaptability. The renovated spaces include a large main hall for multipurpose events, a full commercial kitchen, office space, and a residential loft. Original brick, stone, beams and reclaimed wood help preserve the building’s authenticity and connection to the past. Renovating old buildings with modern interiors is nothing new, but this kind of transformative repurposing is a welcome trend in downtown Lawrence, and one that caught us by surprise.

Please join us for a special afternoon on Oct. 16. Scott Trettel, Sarah Fayman and our own Dennis Domer will speak about this remarkable creation. Please enter at 927½ Massachusetts Street.


-Tom, Bill Dennis & Tim

Cerf House catches mod fan wave


Tom Harper addresses the Lawrence Modern group at the “Cerf House” residence of Mark & Marsha Buhler, June 25.

“Wouldn’t we all like to live here?” asked KU professor of architecture Steve Grabow to a Woodstock-like sea of people attending the Cerf House gathering June 25th. The response was affirmative, and predictable. Who wouldn’t? The Cerf House is the equivalent of a juicy steak, full of mouth-watering appeal on just about every level of midcentury modern fetishism: exceptional site, uplifting living spaces, superb material quality, dramatic entry, inside-outside integration that isn’t just a cliché, etc. etc. Perhaps most appealingly, the house possesses that enigmatic 50s coolness—how else to describe it? Julius Schulman did a masterful job of capturing it in photographs. But to truly feel and appreciate it one must experience it for real, which is the raison d’être of Lawrence ModernThanks to all who made this event such a success and many thanks to our gracious hosts, Mark and Marsha Buhler, who have done a beautiful job of maintaining this classic of midcentury American modern architecture.


Dennis Domer addresses the crowd


Backyard pool


Living room


Tom’s Ford Galaxie in the driveway


Steve Grabow

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