Monday, September 3, 2012
September 3 is the birthdate of architect Louis Sullivan, viewed by many as the creator of the modern skyscraper; mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright and inspiration for the Prairie School. In 1889 he designed a landmark department store for Schlesinger & Mayer at Madison and State Streets in Chicago; in 1904 it was expanded and sold to Carson Pirie Scott. (It is now the Sullivan Center.) The ornament of the lower two stories is frozen in cast iron but also has the fluidity of motion. The building's design owes much to Chicago's Great Fire of 1871: its steel frame and use of bronze and terra cotta make it essentially fire resistant while creating a sense of monumentality.