Louis Sullivan


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Widely known for his dictum ‘form follows function’ the American architect Sullivan's major contribution to design thinking in the United States and Europe was his integration of ornament with underlying structures rather than simply applied to the surface as was the case in the work of many Victorian architects and designers. He had commenced his architectural training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1872, the first architecture school in the United States, before becoming a pupil of Philadelphia architect Frank Furness. In 1874 he studied briefly at the École des Beaux‐Arts in Paris before returning to the United States in the following year. In 1881 he became a partner in the architectural firm of Adler and Sullivan (until 1895), concentrating on design and Dankmar Adler on engineering. The firm produced a number of skyscraper buildings in the period of rebuilding Chicago after the Chicago Fire of 1871, including the Auditorium Building (1886–9) the Stock Exchange Building (1893–4), and the Schlesinger Meyer Department Store (1899–1904, now Carson, Pirie & Scott). Other notable works included Wainwright Building in St Louis (1890–1) and the Guaranty Building in Buffalso (1894–5). Important in the transmission of Sullivan's ideas on ornament was Frank Lloyd Wright who was a member of the firm between 1888 and 1893. Sullivan's aesthetic ideas were contained in his writings, including Kindergarten Chats (1901–2) and his Autobiography (1922–3).

Subjects: Architecture — Art.

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