When COVID-19 shut down businesses and drastically altered daily life in 2020, a group of more than 20 Tulane School of Architecture alumni from the Class of 1980/81 began emailing to cope with the isolation and eventually decided to write a book together. The topic they landed on? Imagine what architects from decades and centuries past – or current time – would serve at a dinner party, based on the architect’s signature style and era.
That book, My Dinner with Lawrence, is now published and available for sale online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Proceeds from the publication will benefit the Class of 1980/81 Fund, a vehicle created by the class to help support TuSA and the memories of the ones who taught them to see differently. My Dinner with Lawrence is named for the late John W. Lawrence, a beloved Dean of the School of Architecture and a leading figure in the New Orleans preservation movement, and is a nod to the 1981 film My Dinner with Andre, which the group of alumni saw together while students at Tulane.
Pages of the book are artfully filled with architectural drawings, illustrations, and photos of completed works and buildings by the chosen architects, as well as the book’s authors themselves.
Production and curation of the book, was easy and brought out many different styles, said alumnus Mac Walcott (M.Arch ’80), who owns Little House Publishing, which published the book.
“The chronological array of the selected architects was purely happenstance,” Walcott said. “Everyone picked their favorite, and we had a range from the 1200s up to modern day.”
In addition to writing about notable architects, the book’s authors also chose their own favorite recipes, and shared background on themselves and their own work.
The book includes an introduction by Walcott and a preface by fellow alumnus and Professor Emeritus Errol Barron (M.Arch '64), who was a new faculty at the school in the early 1980s and taught the group of alumni. He writes about the Class of 1980/81 as studying during a pivotal moment in architectural education - when new ideas abounded and a reawakening and respect for history and contextualism.
Another alumnus, Robert Ivy, FAIA, EVP/Chief Executive Officer at the American Institute of Architects, provided his thoughts on the book.
“To crack the pages of My Dinner with Lawrence is to immerse yourself in delight," Ivy said. "Who wouldn’t crave a loquacious, delicious meal with Le Corbusier or even A. Hays Town? Garlic, olive oil, and wine flow through handsome layouts that, all told, smell like fun."