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Lawrence B. Anderson

Lawrence B. Anderson MArch '30, former dean of the School of Architecture and Urban Planning, died on Wednesday in Emerson Hospital in Concord. He was 87.

The cause was heart and kidney failure, a family member said.

Anderson taught at MIT for 46 years until his retirement in 1972 and was a founding partner of the Cambridge architecture firm Anderson, Beckwith, and Haible.

In 1940, Anderson and Professor Herbert L. Beckwith '26 designed the MIT Alumni Building, which houses the swimming pool. The building was one of the first significant examples of modern design in the United States.

"The change from the architecture of the previous periods to the modern movement was a very fundamental change and Andy was the inspiration in Boston for that change," said William E. Hartmann '38, a retired partner of the architecture firm of Skidmore, Ownings, & Merrill who studied under Anderson at MIT.

Anderson was a professional adviser and consultant on urban development, campus planning, and government buildings. He served as adviser to the Boston Government Center Commission and managed the national competition for the design of Boston's City Hall.

Anderson was born in Geneva, Minn. in 1906. He earned a bachelor's degree in liberal arts in 1927 and a bachelor's degree in architecture in 1928, both from the University of Minnesota.

Anderson taught at the University of Virginia for two years before earning a master's degree in architecture from MIT in 1930. While a graduate student at MIT, Anderson earned the prestigious Paris Prize for post-graduate study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.

Anderson returned to MIT in 1933 as an assistant professor of architecture. He became a full professor in 1944 and was named head of the department in 1947. He served as dean of the School of Architecture and Planning from 1965 until his retirement in 1972.

Anderson rethought school's role

Under Anderson's leadership, changes were made in the direction and curriculum of the architecture program. The School of Architecture and Planning also rethought its role as part of a technological institution.

The department added studies of illumination, solar heating, procurement specifications for mobile housing, application of modern plastics in construction, and acoustics to its curriculum.

Students and colleagues said Anderson was a great professor and was very friendly with students. "He was very much a part of the fervor that was in the spirit of the architecture school then," Hartmann said.

After his retirement, Anderson continued his association with the Institute as a member of the Council of the Arts from 1974 to 1977.

MIT established a biannual award in Anderson's name after his retirement. The initial endowment for the fund was made by two former students, Hartmann and I. M. Pei '40.

In 1978 Anderson received a joint award from the American Institute of Architects and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture for lasting achievements in architecture education. He was the first recipient of the Boston Society of Architects Award of Honor and the St. Botolph Club Foundation Award for Excellence in Architecture, both in 1984.

He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Institute of Architects, and past president of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. In 1957 he was appointed a Fulbright lecturer to the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.

Anderson leaves two daughters, Judith Lawler of South Nyack, N.Y. and Karen Cantine of Edmonton, Alberta; a son, Lawrence S. Anderson of Whitehouse, Ohio; and seven grandchildren. His wife, Rosina (duPont) Anderson died in 1992.