BornSeptember 3, 1856 Boston, MassachusettsDiedApril 14, 1924 ChicagoOccupationArchitect

Louis Henri Sullivan (September 3, 1856 – April 14, 1924) to be an American architect, and also is frequently referred to together the "father the modernism." he is thought about by countless the creator of the modern skyscraper and also was an influential architect and critic that the Chicago School. He is additionally well-known together being crucial mentor to Frank Lloyd bright and motivation to architects the the Prairie School.

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Louis Sullivan coined the expression "form ever before follows function," which, shortened to "form follows function," ended up being the great battle-cry that modernist architects. Sullivan to be the first to cope with the technical and stylistic situation that came through the advance of steel framework buildings. If his structures could be spare and also crisp in their major masses, he often punctuated their plain surfaces through eruptions of lush art Nouveau and also something like Celtic rebirth decorations, usually cast in stole or terra cotta, and ranging native organic creates like vines and ivy, to an ext geometric designs, and also interlace, inspired by his Irish architecture heritage. One more signature aspect of Sullivan"s occupational was the massive, semi-circular arch, employed transparent his job in shaping entrances, frame windows, or as internal design.


Louis Sullivan<1> to be born to an Irish-born father and also a Swiss-born mother, both the whom had emigrated to the United states in the late 1840s. He thrived up living with his grandparents in South analysis (now Wakefield), Massachusetts. Louis spent most of his childhood learning about nature while on his grandparent’s farm. In the later years the his main education, his experience varied. He would spend much time by himself, wandering about Boston, trying out every street and also looking at the surrounding buildings. Around this time he occurred his fascination through buildings, and he decided he would certainly one day come to be a structural technician or architect. While attending high school, Sullivan met Moses Woolson, whose teachings made a lasting impression top top him, and nurtured him till his death. After ~ graduating from high school, Sullivan studied architecture briefly at the Massachusetts academy of Technology. Learning that he might both graduate from high school a year early and pass increase the an initial two years at the Massachusetts institute of modern technology by happen a collection of examinations, Sullivan gone into MIT in ~ the period of sixteen. After one year that study, he moved to Philadelphia and talked himself into a task with architect candid Furness.

However, The Depression the 1873 dried up much of Furness’ work, and he was forced to allow Sullivan go. Together a result, Sullivan relocated to Chicago in 1873 come take component in the structure boom adhering to the great Chicago Fire of 1871. He functioned for wilhelm LeBaron Jenney, the architect often credited with erecting the very first steel-frame building. After much less than a year through Jenney, Sullivan moved to Paris and also studied at the École des Beaux-Arts because that a year.

Later, he returned to Chicago and also began job-related for the for sure of Joseph S. Johnston & john Edelman together a draftsman. Johnston & Edleman were i was delegated for the interior design of the Moody Tabernacle, which was completed by Sullivan.<1> In 1879, Dankmar Adler hired Sullivan; a year later, he ended up being a partner in the firm. This significant the beginning of Sullivan"s most abundant years. In addition, it to be at this firm that Sullivan deeply influenced a young designer named Frank Lloyd Wright, that came to adopt Sullivan"s designs and principles together the impetus for his own work.



Adler and also Sullivan initially achieved fame as theater architects. While many of your theaters were in Chicago, their fame winner commissions as much west as Pueblo, Colorado, and Seattle, Washington (unbuilt). The finishing project the this phase of the firm"s history was the 1889 Auditorium structure in Chicago, an particularly mixed-use structure which contains not just a 3,000-seat theater, but likewise a hotel and also office building. Adler and also Sullivan reserved the top floor the the tower because that their very own office. After ~ 1889 the firm came to be known because that these office buildings, particularly the 1891 Wainwright structure in St. Louis and also the 1899 Carson Pirie Scott Department keep on State Street in Chicago. Luigi Sullivan is considered by plenty of to it is in the first architect to completely imagine and realize a rich architectural vocabulary because that a revolutionary brand-new kind of building: the stole high-rise.

Sullivan and the steel High-Rise

Prior to the late nineteenth century, the weight of a multistory building had to be supported principally through the toughness of that walls. The higher the building, the an ext strain this put on the lower sections the the building. Since there to be clear engineering borders to the load such "load-bearing" walls might sustain, large designs meant massively thick wall surfaces on the floor floors, and also definite borders on the building"s height.

The development of cheap, versatile steel in the second fifty percent of the nineteenth century readjusted those rules. America remained in the midst of fast social and economic growth that make for great opportunities in architecture design. A much more urbanized culture was developing and society called the end for new, bigger buildings. The mass manufacturing of stole was the key driving force behind the capacity to develop skyscrapers during the mid-1880s. As presented by the data below prices dropped substantially during this period.

Price of stole at Bessemer stole Rails from 1867-1895 ($/ton)

1867-$1661870-$1071875- $691880- $681885- $291890- $321895- $32

On the various other hand, the human being in Midwestern America felt less social push to conform to the ways and styles the the architecture past. Through assembling a frame of steel girders, architects and also builders could suddenly develop tall, slender buildings with a strong and relatively delicate steel skeleton. The rest of the building"s facets - the walls, floors, ceilings, and also windows - were suspended indigenous the steel, which lugged the weight. This new means of creating buildings, so-called "column-frame" construction, moved them up fairly than out. The steel weight-bearing frame not only enabled taller buildings, however permitted much larger windows, i beg your pardon meant an ext daylight reaching inner spaces. Inner walls came to be thinner, which in turn created an ext usable floor space.

Chicago"s Monadnock building (which was no designed through Sullivan) precise straddles this remarkable moment of transition. The northern fifty percent of the building, finished in 1891, is the load-bearing construction. Vice versa, the southerly half, finished only two years later, is column-frame. While experiment in this brand-new technology were ensuing in many cities, Chicago was the vital laboratory. Industrial capital and also civic proud drove a surge of brand-new construction throughout the city"s downtown in the wake up of the 1871 fire.

The technical limits of weight-bearing stonework had always imposed formal and also structural constraints; now those limit were suddenly gone. Nobody of the historical precedents were any kind of help, and also this brand-new freedom created a sort of technical and stylistic crisis.

Sullivan was the an initial to cope through that crisis. He addressed it by embracing the alters that came v the stole frame, creating a grammar of kind for the high rise (base, shaft, and pediment), simplifying the appearance of the building by breaking away from historical styles, making use of his own complex flora designs, in upright bands, to draw the eye upwards and also emphasize the building"s verticality, and relating the form of the structure to its specific purpose. Every this to be revolutionary, appealingly honest, and commercially successful.

Louis Sullivan coined the phrase "form ever follows function," which, shortened to "form follows function," would end up being the an excellent battle-cry of modernist architects. This credo, which inserted the demands of handy use above aesthetics, would later be taken by influential designers to imply that decorate elements, i beg your pardon architects call "ornament," were superfluous in modern-day buildings. However Sullivan self neither assumed nor designed follow me such dogmatic lines throughout the height of his career. While his buildings could it is in spare and crisp in their major masses, he regularly punctuated their level surfaces v eruptions that lush arts Nouveau and something like Celtic renewal decorations, usually cast in iron or terra cotta, and ranging native organic forms like vines and also ivy, to much more geometric designs, and interlace, influenced by his Irish architecture heritage. Terra cotta is lighter and easier to work-related with than rock masonry. Sullivan offered it in his style because it had a malleability that was proper for his ornament. More than likely the most famous instance of this ornamentation is the writhing green ironwork that covers the entrance canopies the the Carson Pirie Scott keep on south State Street. This ornaments, often executed through the talented younger draftsman in Sullivan"s employ, would eventually become Sullivan"s trademark; come students that architecture, they room his instantly-recognizable signature.

Another signature aspect of Sullivan"s work-related is the massive, semi-circular arch. Sullivan work such arches throughout his job in shaping entrances, frame windows, or as inner design.

All that these elements can be found in Sullivan"s widely-admired Guaranty Building, which that designed while partnered with Adler. Perfect in 1895, this office structure in Buffalo, brand-new York was visibly split into three "zones" the design: a plain, wide-windowed base because that the ground-level shops; the main office block, through vertical ribbons of masonry rising unimpeded across nine top floors come emphasize the building"s height; and an ornamented cornice perforated by round windows at the roof level, wherein the building"s mechanical systems (like the elevator motors) to be housed. The cornice crawls through Sullivan"s trademark arts Nouveau vines; every ground-floor enntrance gate is topped through a semi-circular arch.

Because that Sullivan"s remarkable success in design and also construction at together a vital point in architectural history, he has actually sometimes been explained as the "father" of the American skyscraper. In truth, plenty of architects had actually been structure skyscrapers prior to or at the same time with Sullivan. Chicago itself to be replete v extraordinary designers and builders in the late years that the nineteenth century, consisting of Sullivan"s partner Dankmar Adler, as well as Daniel Burnham, and also John Wellborn Root, among the building contractors of the Monadnock Building. That and another source design, the Masonic temple Tower (both in Chicago), room cited by many as the originators of skyscraper aesthetics the bearing wall and column-frame construction respectively.

It might be that Sullivan"s prominence in skyscraper background can be credited not only to his brilliance, yet in some degree to the myth-making skills of his disciple, candid Lloyd Wright, and to the affect of Sullivan"s very own book, The Autobiography of an Idea. The may additionally owe some of his legend come the tragedy the his later on years, i m sorry lends his story a poignancy i m sorry has caught the creative thinking of student and also historian alike.

Later Career and also Decline

In 1890 Sullivan was among the ten architects, five from the eastern US and five indigenous the west US, favored to develop a major structure for the "White City," the World"s Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893. Sullivan"s massive Transportation structure and vast arched "Golden Door" stand out as the only forward-looking architecture in a sea the Beaux-Arts historical copies, and the just gorgeously multicolored facade in the White City. Sullivan and also fair director Daniel Burnham were vocal around their displeasure v each other. Sullivan was later on (1922) to case that the Fair set the food of American architecture earlier "for fifty percent a century indigenous its date, if no longer." (Autobiography of one Idea, 325) His was the only structure to receive substantial recognition external America, receiving three medals native the Union Centrale des art Decoratifs the complying with year.

Like all American architects, Adler and Sullivan witnessed a precipitous decrease in their exercise with the start of the panic of 1893. Follow to Charles Bebb, who was working in the office that that time, Adler obtained money to shot to save employees top top the payroll.<2> through 1894, however, in the face of proceeding financial distress v no relief in sight, Adler and also Sullivan dissolved their partnership. The Guaranty structure was taken into consideration the last significant project of the firm.

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By both temperament and connections, Adler had always been the one who lugged in brand-new business come the partnership, and after the rupture Sullivan received few large commissions, aside from the Carson Pirie Scott room Store. He got in a 20-year financial and emotional decline, beset through a shortage the commissions, chronic gaue won problems and also alcoholism. He obtained a couple of commissions for small-town Midwestern banks, composed books, and also in 1922, appeared as a critic of Raymond Hood"s winning entry for the Tribune Tower competition, a steel-frame tower pull in Gothic stonework that Sullivan uncovered a shameful item of historicism. He and also his previous understudy, frank Lloyd Wright, reconciled over time for bright to aid fund Sullivan"s funeral after that died, poor and also alone, in a Chicago hotel room ~ above April 14, 1924. A usually headstone clues his final resting spot in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago"s Uptown neighborhood. A monument to be later set up in Sullivan"s honor, a few feet from his headstone.