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Williams O'Brien Associates, Inc. papers

Identifier: N305

Scope and Contents

The collection reflects Lorenzo D. Williams and James W. O'Brien's experience working on and designing buildings in the greater Minnesota and Twin Cities areas. The collection includes working drawings and renderings.


  • Creation: 1921-2004


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for use in the Archives and Special Collections reading room and does not circulate. Advance notice is requested.

Restrictions on Use

This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

Biographical Note

Lorenzo D. Williams and James W. O’Brien founded and ran one of Minnesota’s most socially conscious firms during their time as prominent architects in the field. Founded in 1962 by Williams, the firm operated well into the 90s when Williams retired. At its peak in the late 60s to the mid-70s, the firm had 26 employees and their reach spanned state-wide. Some of their most well-known works include Jamestown Homes, The Chateau in Dinkytown, and Findley Place.

Known for their “honest architecture", or “appropriate architecture”, Williams O'Brien Associates worked with government housing authorities to advocate for the people who occupied their buildings and to include their stake in the design process (Architecture Minnesota, July/August 1986).

Williams and O’Brien each served terms on state and national committees to increase the standards of the profession. Williams, appointed by President Johnson, served on the Presidential Commission on Barriers to the Handicapped. Both served terms on the NCARB Board of Directors, with Williams elected as President.


18 Cubic Feet (6 drawings boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of working drawings and renderings documenting Lorenzo D. Williams and James W. O'Brien's extensive professional work as architects in the greater Minnesota and Twin Cities areas.

Williams O'Brien Associates, Inc. Papers, 1921-2004
Jake Torkelson
October 13, 2016
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Collecting Area Details

Contact The Northwest Architectural Archives Collecting Area