He was graduated in Architecture at Cornell University. After a period of supplementary training in New York and Boston offices, the young man continued his study during a year of travel in Europe.
While attending a Paris Atlier he was invited to take charge of the newly founded School of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1891 returned to this country to assume that post. Although young for so important a position, Professor Laird proved equal to the task, and due mainly to the policies he established and maintained during his years of service, the School attained its present high standing. In 1920, when the School of Fine Arts was established at the University, Mr. Laird was chosen Dean, and held that office until his retirement in 1932.
In addition to educational work he served frequently as architectural Consultant and Advisor to many states, cities and private parties, and rendered great service to the profession in raising ethical standards of architectural competitions.
Laird was one of the founders of the Assocation of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and its president from 1912 to 1919. He was named an honorary fellow of the national AIA in 1915.
He was also a member of the Great Council of the Cathedral of Washington, and of the Pennsylvania State Art Commission, on which he served from 1928 until 1936, and to which he was re-appointed in 1938. Laird was also a member of the American Civic Association.
Laird married Clara Elizabeth Tuller on November 15, 1893. They had two children: Mary Hall and Helen Powers, the latter not surviving to adulthood.