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Louis Sullivan at 150 Years
Celebrating Louis Sullivan's 150th Anniversary

In 2006, the Chicago History Museum led a six-week series of public programs to mark the 150th anniversary of Louis Sullivan's birth. The culminating event was the Louis Sullivan at 150 International Symposium, held at the Museum. Click here to access audio recordings of the symposium presentations, including the keynote address by Jean-Louis Cohen.

This website serves as a record of the celebration and provides an extensive overview of Louis Sullivan's life and career. Click here to find out more about the programs held throughout Chicago to mark Sullivan's sesquicentennial.

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Adler and Sullivan

The firm of Adler & Sullivan contributed to the Chicago landscape with high-profile projects such as the Auditorium Building (1886-1889), the Chicago Stock Exchange (1893-1894), and the James Charnley House on Astor Street (1892). From 1880 to 1895, Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan designed approximately 180 buildings. They broke from their peers by seeking unique solutions to the requirements of each new building project. They developed original designs, rather than following traditional architectural styles, and employed new advances in construction and materials technology.

Adler contributed his innovative engineering and long client list to the firm. Sullivan brought his expressive faÁade designs that embraced natural forms. Sullivanís talent for ornamentation caused his reputation to grow rapidly. Sullivan joined Adler's firm in 1880. In May 1883, Sullivanís full partnership in the firm was announced in the Chicago Tribune. Because of their success, Adler & Sullivan hired an assistant, a young aspiring architect named Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright was heavily influenced by his time at the firm, particularly Sullivanís ideas about the relationship between architecture and nature.

The first half of the 1890s brought success to Adler & Sullivan, but it was not to last. By 1894, a lack of commissions caused by the devastating depression of the previous year drove Adler to take a job as a consultant and supervising sales manager for the Crane Elevator Company. Adler was unhappy in the position and in less than a year realized that his talents were better suited to architecture. Although he returned to architecture, he did not rejoin Sullivan, who felt slighted by Adlerís disloyalty to their partnership. The two collaborated only once more to design a portion of the Schlesinger & Mayer Department store (1898). They both worked in the Auditorium Building, on different floors, until Adlerís death in 1900.

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Adler & Sullivan,
Architects office door light
Chicago History Museum

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This site is supported by a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.