Dankmar Adler (1844-1900)

Jewish architect and engineer Dankmar Adler had a partnership with Louis Sullivan and was perhaps the most famous and influential in American architecture.

Dankmar Adler, World’s Columbian Exposition, about 1891: Portrait of the man looking off to the left. Additionally, it is in black and white and he has a scruffy beard.
Dankmar Adler’s Portrait (about 1891)

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dankmar_Adler#/media/File:Dankmar_Adler.jpg

About His Life

Dankmar Adler was born on July 3, 1844, in Germany. Then, Adler immigrated to the United States in 1854 and settled in Detroit, where he began his architectural studies in 1857. Later, he moved to Chicago, where he became a draftsman in August Bauer’s office. There, he was a Jewish architect and civil engineer. In 1880, he hired Louis Sullivan as a draftsman and designer, and three years later made him partner. Adler worked as a technical designer and administrator, while Sullivan was a planner and artist. The association ended in July 1895. However, the partnership of Adler and Sullivan helped rebuild Chicago after the Great Fire and lead the Chicago School of Architecture. In addition to his achievements in the construction of steel-framed buildings and skyscrapers, Adler taught Frank Lloyd Wright. He died on April 16, 1900, in Chicago, Illinois.

Auditorium, Adler & Sullivan, 1889, Chicago.
Auditorium (1889) Adler & Sullivan

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/c4c39682-7e8f-4d39-aff7-4979804ffdca by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Major Works

  • The Auditorium: One of Chicago’s architectural masterpieces that Adler and Sullivan received based on Adler’s expertise in acoustics and engineering. This project demonstrates Adler’s technical ability to create a multifunctional facility that met various requirements. Additionally, the interior drawings for this project were created by a young Frank Lloyd Wright. Innovative foundation technologies allowed this huge, heavy building to be erected in a notoriously swampy area.
Auditorium Theatre interior from the balcony, Adler & Sullivan, 1889, Chicago.
Auditorium Theatre interior from the balcony (1889) Adler & Sullivan, 1889, Chicago

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auditorium_Building_(Chicago)#/media/File:Chicago_Auditorium_Building,_interior_from_balcony.jpg

  • Adler and Sullivan also designed the Kehilat Anshe Maariv (1891), which the former synagogue where Adler’s Father was a rabbi.
  • The Wainwright Building in St. Louis (1891) in Missouri
  • Guarantee Building in Buffalo (1896) in New York
Wainwright Building, Adler & Sullivan, 1891, New York State Building in Buffalo. Early skyscraper office.
Wainwright Building (1891) Adler & Sullivan

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/2f36dd84-e7bf-40d3-9ec4-3b21968919e0 by Michael M Stokes

Info sources:



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