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

World's Columbian Exposition: Transportation Building

1893
Photo
Library of Congress, Washington

In the autumn of 1890, the plans for the World's Columbian Exposition were formulated by Daniel Burnham. Five firms from the East Coast were invited to provide detailed plans of the pavilions; five Chicago practices, including Adler & Sullivan, were invited in addition shortly thereafter. The designs were completed and published by April 1891.

The buildings designed by the original five firms were clustered around the breath-taking Court of Honor and produced a harmonious ensemble of collonaded classical façades, all painted a soothing ivory white. Just behind these, Sullivan erected his Transportation Building, a boxy composition in his new ahistorical style, relying on passages of his ornament and stencils for its articulation, painted crimson and gold with touches of green and blue. The boldness of the building, and the striking contrast it gave to the historicism of the Court of Honor, provided an exciting decorative display. Sullivan later described the objective of the design as 'an architectural exhibit': the building was an abstract demonstration of the elaboration of colour and form and was 'a natural, not historical, exhibit'.

The Transportation Building attracted a great deal of attention and was awarded the gold, silver, and bronze medals by the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, but after it was demolished, the public remembered the Court of Honor more vividly.

The shown picture is from the Official Views of the World's Columbian Exposition.