A brutalist sanctuary Nov. 12th


Tim Hossler

Lawrence Modern’s infatuation with 1960s brutalist architecture continues with our next event at the Immanuel Lutheran Church, a building most of us (non-Lutherans) drive by quite often. Brutalist architecture tends to elicit strong reactions, but love it or hate it you can’t ignore it. Rising from the ground like a stripped classical belfry, the Immanuel Lutheran Church reaches for the heavens with typical Lutheran clarity. The result is art and architecture that provides an inspired setting for worship. The Bible says, “The people must make a sacred Tent for me, so that I may live among them.” This is quite a tent. See you on November 12 for another stirring Lawrence Modern congregation.


—Tom, Tim, Dennis & Bill


One for the ages

Babcock Place

Jim Williams, Dick Peters & Dennis Domer (Photo: Leilani Thornton Tuttle)

The Dennis Domer-moderated Q&A on May 7 between architects Jim Williams and Dick Peters at Babcock Place, the retirement home they designed in the early 1970s for the City of Lawrence, was significant not only for recognizing the work of these two august and unrepentant modernists but also alerting us to the fact that we’re probably going to live out our final days in one of these facilities. Which is why they’re so vitally important to the community. Lawrence is fortunate that the city commissioned Peters and Williams to do this work; Babcock Place has served its purpose admirably, providing quality low cost housing in an attractive, high quality environment for 45 years. And architecturally, their building has aged very well, unlike many Brutalist-tinged designs from that era. “The exterior is durable and the rough edges provided a texture that we thought was pleasing,” said Williams. Peters added, “As with all of our projects, we were working for the client, meeting their needs and designing in ways we thought were appropriate.” Among the many hundreds of buildings designed over their 56-year partnership, their most long-lasting and significant achievement may well be a nursing home, which, like nursery schools, are included among the great works of modernism. By this measure alone, their status is secured.






Shannon Oury (Photo: Leilani Tuttle)


Jim Williams (Photo: Leilani Tuttle)


Tom Harper (Photo: Leilani Tuttle)

The May 7 gathering was a fitting tribute for two great shadow figures of modern architecture and an important day as we continue our mission to raise awareness of midcentury and modern architecture in Lawrence. We wish to thank the staff and residents of Babcock Place for allowing us to host the event and all those who attended.

—Tom, Dennis, Tim & Bill

‘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)

%d bloggers like this: