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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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Frank Lloyd Wright

Father of the Prairie School of Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright was born on June 8, 1867. His father, William Carey Wright, worked as a preacher and musician. His mother, Anna Lloyd-Jones, was a teacher. From a very early age, she encouraged Wright to become an architect. It is said that she placed pictures of great buildings in his nursery to encourage such a career.

Wright attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied Civil Engineering. Afterward, he moved to Chicago to fill a position with the architectural firm of J. Lyman Silsbee. In 1888, shortly after starting this position, Wright was hired by the firm of Adler & Sullivan as a draftsman. His first project with the firm was the Auditorium Building, but he also had a hand in many other famous commissions such as the Charnley house, completed in 1892.

Eventually, Wright worked his way up to chief draftsman and handled most of the residential commissions. During his time with Adler & Sullivan, Wright became very close to his mentor Louis Sullivan. He came to refer to him as “Lieber Meister” (beloved master). Wright stayed with the firm and worked closely with Sullivan for several years. As Wright himself said, he was “the pencil in Sullivan’s hand.” Their styles and ideas overlapped in many respects, so much so that Sullivan asked Wright to design his home.

This close relationship did not prevent Wright from moonlighting commissions. This deceit led to his dismissal from Adler & Sullivan in 1893. Although the parting was not on good terms, Wright never spoke ill of Sullivan and often credited him with playing a major role in shaping his own architectural style and achievements. Wright and Sullivan re-established their friendship around 1914. Wright was likely Sullivan's closest friend at the time of his death in 1924. Wright wrote a moving obituary for Sullivan in Architectural Record magazine later that same year.

Constantly furthering his architectural accomplishments, Wright never actually retired. He continued to develop his Prairie style, which is typified by sheltering rooflines, a central hearth, and open, unconventional floorplans. Wright’s desire to pursue the “destruction of the box,” became the foundation of the Prairie School he developed. He died on April 9, 1959.


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