SULLIVAN, Louis Henry
(b. 1856, Boston, d. 1924, Chicago)

Biography

American architect, writer and draftsman. At age 18, after working under architects Frank Furness (1839-1912) in Philadelphia and William LeBaron Jenney (1832-1907) in Chicago, Sullivan studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris for about six months, followed by a trip to Italy. Sullivan then returned to the United States and settled in Chicago. After working for a few years at Dankmar Adler's (1844-1900) firm as chief draftsman and designer, they formed the firm of Adler & Sullivan in May 1883. Sullivan was the primary design partner and Adler was the engineer. Adler & Sullivan's buildings, including the Auditorium and Stock Exchange Buildings in Chicago, the Wainwright Building in St. Louis, and the Guaranty Building in Buffalo, were at the leading edge of American architecture and skyscraper design.

The depression of 1893 had curtailed the firm's practice, and then in 1895 Sullivan had parted with Adler. Only a few opportunities came after that; the Carson Pirie Scott Store was his last large urban structure. The last phase in Sullivan's career was largely devoted to designing banks in small towns in the Midwest. His career declined, and Sullivan died in obscurity and poverty in Chicago in 1924.

Sullivan was the leading force of progressive architecture in Chicago at its most formative period in the 1890s. He is known for his tall office buildings, skyscrapers, and department stores, often executed with his partner Dankmar Adler. While Sullivan embraced the new concept of industrialized architecture and steel frame construction, he covered his buildings with delicate ornament, often with organic or plant motifs.