Buck was the son of landscape artist William Henry Buck. He was trained by Henry Thiberge and worked as a draughtsman. During preparations for the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial in 1884, Buck became associated with French architect Edouard Sidel, a gold-medal winner at the exposition. He assisted Sidel in commissions for the Caldwell Hotel and Morris Building in Birmingham and remained in the city in partnership with A. J. Armstrong in the firm of Armstrong & Buck.
Among the firm's first designs was a successful entry for the competition for the Board of Trade Building in Fort Worth, Texas. By the time the building was constructed in 1889, Armstrong had moved to Texas to staff Armstrong & Buck's "branch office" before leaving to join the partnership of Armstrong & Messer. Buck remained in Alabama and partnered with English architect John Sutcliffe. In 1892, Sutcliffe relocated to Chicago, Buck followed him there and initially continued their professional association.
While Sutcliffe specialized in Gothic Revival churches, Buck became associated with the progressive circle called "The Eighteen," which swirled around Frank Lloyd Wright, Dwight Perkins, Robert C. Spencer and others. Like many of that circle, Buck had an office in Steinway Hall in 1902. He continued to produce designs in a range of historic styles, with a tendency to simplify details in pursuit of a dignified formal language.
In addition to his commissioned buildings, Buck produced designs for publications, such as Hermann V. von Holst's Country and Suburban Homes of the Prairie School Period, and for the magazines Ladies Home Journal and House Beautiful. He collaborated often with interior designers and fellow Steinway Hall tenants Elizabeth Eleanor D'Arcy Gaw and Mary Mower.
In 1907 Buck entered into partnership with Edwin Besançon Clarke. They completed numerous houses in Rockford, Illinois over the next decade.
Buck was a member of the Arts Club of Chicago, North Shore Art League, and Ravinia Sketch Club. He died in 1929 in Ravinia, Illinois.
- Entrance Gates, Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois (with John Sutcliffe)
- Lawrence Buck residence, Rogers Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1904
- Charles H. Reeves Jr residence, Oak Park, Illinois, 1905 (with Vernon Spencer Watson)
- Roycemore Private School for Girls, Evanston, Illinois (with Tallmadge and Watson)
- H. G. Wasson residence, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1907
- Grey House at "Four Mounds Estate", Dubuque, Iowa, 1908
- Max H. Penwell residence, Pana, Illinois, 1908
- E. H. Ehrman residence, Oak Park, Illinois, 1908
- Wigell residence, Rockford, Illinois, 1908
- Walter Boyle residence, Rockford, Illinois, 1908
- J. S. Ely residence, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1908
- Nelson Bonney residence, Norwich, New York, 1908
- Rachel McMullen residence, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1908
- George McMullen residence, Grand Rapids, Michigan
- 1160 Bryant Street, Palo Alto, California, 1909
- Lawrence Buck residence, Ravinia, Illinois, 1911
- Elks' Lodge, Rockford, Illinois, 1912
- E. D. Moeng residence, Rogers Park, Chicago, Illinois, 1912
- "Walden," the Cyrus H. McCormick residence, Lake Forest, Illinois, 1915 (associated architect)
- The Allendale School, Lake Villa, Illinois, 1919 (with landscape architect Jens Jensen)
- Ellis Family Homestead, Pensacola, Florida
- Von Holst, Hermann V. Country and Suburban Homes of the Prairie School Period