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Laurence O. Booth (b. 1936)

Dates of Interview:

March 25, 26, 31; April 7, 1998

Location of Interview:

Booth's office in Chicago


Annemarie van Roessel

Length of Transcript:

148 pages
View Online

Photograph courtesy of Booth Hansen Associates.

Biographical Summary

Laurence (Larry) Ogden Booth was born in 1936 in Chicago, Illinois. He recieved a B.A. from Stanford in 1953 and studied architecture at Harvard before receiving his B. Arch. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1960. After graduating from MIT and completing military duty in Germany, Booth returned to Chicago to join the office of Stanley Tigerman in 1964. Booth and James Nagle, also in Tigerman's office, left to open their own firm in 1966. During the 1970s, Booth joined the "Chicago Seven," a diverse group of architects that held a series of influential exhibitions and symposia to encourage new approaches to architecture in Chicago. He split from Nagle in 1981 to open his firm, Booth Hansen Associates. Booth has been a visiting lecturer and critic at numerous universities and was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1980.

Interview Highlights

Booth speaks about his education at Stanford and impressions of California modernism; studying at Harvard and MIT; military service and travels in Europe; working for Stanley Tigerman; starting his own firm with Jim Nagle; early architectural projects; organizing the Chicago Seven; exhibitions of the Chicago Seven; work in the firm of Booth & Nagle; revival of the Chicago Architectural Club; founding Booth Hansen Associates; ideas and opinions.

Perspective view, "Late Entries to the Chicago Tribune Tower" Competition, 1980.
Department of Architecture, The Art Institute of Chicago.

Elevation rendering, 320 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, 1981.
Department of Architecture, The Art Institute of Chicago.

Interview Excerpt

"I was just sitting there one day and Stanley [Tigerman] called up and said, "We're going to have a meeting tonight. Come over." So I went over and it was Ben Weese, Stuart Cohen, Stanley, and I. I think that Stanley just needed some kind of front. Of course we were all kind of anti-Miesian. Stanley knew that I was not a Miesian, and Stuart had just come from Cornell and was filled with a historical, stylistic approach to architecture. Stanley is a street-fighter and he was looking for a fight. Ben was angry, as usual, at everything. We made a critical mass of architects, but Stanley did all the work [for the exhibition, "Chicago Architects,"] and Stuart wrote the essay. We got John Massey's group to do the installation and the design of the show, the mounting and the stands and all that. When "One Hundred Years of Architecture in Chicago" opened at the MCA, we opened our show at the Time-Life building, which was right around the corner. They'd let us use the lobby, through Ben Weese. We set up this show in the lobby. Of course, Stanley called it the Salon des Refusés. We were street-fighting." (p. 48)

Additional Resources

Laurence Booth images in the R&B Archives
Related archival materials in the R&B Archives
Works by Booth in the Department of Architecture and Design

Funding for this oral history was provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
Additional funding for the electronic presentation of this transcript was provided by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council.