Louis Henry Sullivan (1856-1924)

Louis Henry Sullivan was considered a pioneer of modern American architecture and the “father of skyscrapers”.

Photo of Louis Sullivan, 1895

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About his life

Louis Sullivanin full Louis Henry Sullivan, was born on September 3, 1856, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S..  Sullivan was employed in the Chicago office of William Le Baron Jenney, designer of the first steel-skeleton skyscraper, and later entered the office of Dankmar Adler, where he became chief draftsman and in 1881 was made a member of the firm. Adler & Sullivan rapidly became prominent. Their 14-year association produced more than 100 buildings. Frank Lloyd Wright apprenticed for six years with Sullivan at the firm. In 1895, proud and optimistic, Sullivan began to practice by himself. His Autobiography was published shortly before he died on April 14, 1924, Chicago, Illinois.

info source: https://www.biography.com/people/louis-h-sullivan-38593

info source: http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/architecture-biographies/louis-henry-sullivan

Portrait of Sullivan, Frank A. Werner, 1919

image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Sullivan#/media/File:LouisSullivan.jpg

What were his major works?

His more than 100 works in collaboration (1879–95) with Dankmar Adler include the Auditorium Building, Chicago (1887–89); the Guaranty Building, Buffalo, New York (1894–95; now Prudential Building); and the Wainwright Building, St. Louis, Missouri (1890–91).

Guaranty Building, Adler & Sullivan, 1894–95

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In his independent practice, Sullivan designed the Schlesinger & Mayer department store (1898–1904; now the Sullivan Center) in Chicago, occupied by Carson Pirie Scott & Co. from 1904 to 2007. Particularly noteworthy projects undertaken in his last years were seven banks in a number of small Midwestern towns, like the National Farmers’ Bank in OwatonnaMinnesota and Merchants’ National Bank in GrinnellIowa (1914).

Schlesinger & Mayer department store, Sullivan, 1898–1904, Chicago

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Greater plastic richness and a heightened subjectivity are apparent in Sullivan’s work after 1895. His 12-story Bayard (now Condict) Building in New York City was embellished with molded terra-cotta and cast-iron ornament.

info source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Louis-Sullivan

Cast-iron ornament, Sullivan, 1903

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How can we identify Sullivan’s style?

Sullivan’s bold geometrical lines and taller skyscrapers helped him stand out his contemporaries, who emulated older, established styles. Instead of mimicking these styles, Sullivan drew on his experiences at M.I.T. and in Europe and took a fresh and ingenuous approach to architecture. ‘Form ever follows function‘ or ‘Form follows function’, Sullivan said. Sullivan’s development of the skyscraper is probably the best example of ‘form follows function’. By applying this principle, Sullivan developed a contemporary style that emphasized the use of new building practices and materials, as well as verticality and openness.

info source: http://study.com/academy/lesson/louis-sullivan-biography-quotes-architecture.html

National Farmers’ Bank, Sullivan,1908, Owatonna

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