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

Auditorium Building: general view

1887-89
Photo
430 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago

Between 1880 and 1886, Sullivan designed a series of houses and commercial buildings, the exteriors of which were notable for their strange floral decoration. The Adler & Sullivan firm was not yet receiving commissions for the eight- or ten-storey 'skyscraper' office buildings, but in 1886 obtained the commission for the Auditorium Building, an opera house enclosed in a ten-storey block of hotel rooms and offices, the largest building yet projected in Chicago. It was a difficult job, both technically and aesthetically, and both partners carried off their departments magisterially. For the exterior design, Sullivan abstained from ornamental experiments, adopting a severe round-arched treatment, but inside the hotel and especially in the auditorium itself, he perfected his characteristic style of ornament, which was integrated with the surfaces it covered, the latter being shaped and articulated to express their function.

The building with the theatre is one of the best-known designs of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. Since 1947, the Auditorium Building has been part of Roosevelt University.