Louis Sullivan (Boston 1856 – 1924)
“Form follows function.” Louis Sullivan, born in Boston in 1856, studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before leaving for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. After Sullivan finished his training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he returned to Chicago to open his own firm. Sullivan entered Chicago architecture at a highly serendipitous time. After the fire of 1871, the burgeoning metropolis of Chicago needed rebuilding. Sullivan’s firm, Sullivan & Adler lead the way, defining American architecture of and skyscraper design. They produced monuments to American idealism and paired tall, ambitiously towering structures with tasteful ornamentation. Often called the "father of the skyscraper"and the "father of modernism," Louis Sullivan was an influential American architect, a mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright and inspired the group of Chicago architects that would later comprise the Prairie School.Louis Sullivan along with Frank Lloyd Wright and H.H. Richardson are widely considered the “trinity of American architecture." Like H.H. Richardson, Sullivan is held today to be one of the most individual and innovative architects of the developing modern period. Sullivan cast off the standard classical ornamentation of the day with highly original, organic architectural details inspired by nature. Sullivan designed with the principle of reconciling the world of nature with science, technology and the capabilities offered by the modern machine. Sullivan’s buildings balanced form and function with subdued ornamentation integrated into the building itself rather than added as an afterthought. Sullivan inspired a generation of American and European architects. Frank Lloyd Wrightjoined the firm in 1888 and worked for Sullivan becoming the "pencil in Sullivan's hand". Sullivan eventually fired Wright for taking on outside projects but he was very influence by his years with Sullivan.Toward the end of his career, Sullivan authored several books on what came to be called organic architecture. Sullivan promoted the idea that architecture needed to embody the human connection with nature and to democracy, while still accepting the most modern functional needs and materials.