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I.P. Lord Collection

Rotch Scholar, MIT student and teacher, and professional architect.

Israel Pierre Lord’s long architectural career, spanning more than half a century, is representative of a profession moving from Beaux-Arts ideals to modernist trends. Lord was born in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1881 and began studying architectural drafting in high school. After graduating from the Massachusetts Normal Art School in 1902, Lord attended MIT as a special student in Course IV (Architecture) as a member of the class of 1904. After graduating he worked as a draftsman in the firm of Codman & Despradelle in Boston under the tutelage of MIT professor Constant Désiré Despradelle. In 1908 Lord was named the winner of the prestigious Rotch Travelling Scholarship, funding two years of travel in Europe. Lord returned to Boston after further study at the American Academy in Rome and joined the Codman partnership after Despradelle’s death. Lord was an instructor in architecture at MIT from 1914 to 1917 and in 1916 formed a partnership with the established architect G. Henri Desmond. Desmond & Lord worked on a variety of project types including houses, apartments, hotels, stadiums, bridges, churches, and offices. Lord retired from the firm in 1961 and died in 1973 at age 92.

The drawings and archives in the I.P. Lord Collection provide a varied view of an architectural career through a range of materials documenting more than 120 architectural projects. Lord’s scrapbooks of photographs and postcards allow a partial reconstruction of his travel itineraries through the American West, Mexico, England, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, and Egypt. Sketches, draft drawings, and a diary from his time in Europe reveal the working process of a Rotch Travelling Scholar in preparing envoi drawings. A small group of drawings and reproductions from Lord’s time at the firm Codman & Despradelle provide rare information on the professional practice of one of MIT’s most significant Architecture faculty. Desmond & Lord’s most prominent Boston projects—such as the Suffolk County Courthouse —and lesser-known work—such as the Elephant House at Franklin Park Zoo —are represented in the collection. A scrapbook of bridges provides insight into the work of a nimble firm finding work during the Great Depression. The best-documented project in the collection is Saint Ignatius of Loyola Church adjacent to the Chestnut Hill campus of Boston College. Before Lord’s retirement, the firm began designing in a more modernist style as seen in their proposed 1950s project for the Massachusetts State Office Building and their 1960s proposal for Boston City Hall.

Title: I.P. Lord Collection

Creators: Israel Pierre Lord; Desmond & Lord

Dates: 1876–1984, bulk 1900–1960

Extent: 481 drawings; 6 linear feet archives

Repository: MIT Museum

Reference code: 2016.002

Access: Online and by appointment

Copyright: Some copyright restrictions may apply

Credit: I.P. Lord Collection, MIT Museum

See more detail about the archival collection here