Louis Sullivan — architecture as ‘living art’

Of kindness and Democracy

The implications of the Democratic Idea branch into endless ramification of science, of art, of all industrial and social activities of human well-being, through which shall flow the wholesome sap of its urge of self-preservation through beneficence, drawn up from roots running ever deeper and spreading ever finer within the rich soil of human kindness and intelligence. For kindness is the sanest of powers, and by its fruits shall Democracy be know. It is of the antitheses that Feudalism has prepared the way for kindness. Kindness, seemingly so week, is in fact the name of a great adventure which mankind thus far has lacked the courage, the intelligence, the grit to undertake. Its manly, its heroic aspect has been unknown, by reasons of inverted notions of reality. The form of myopia is of the feudal view.

From Louis Sullivan, The Autobiography of an Idea, New York: Dover Publications, 1956, p. 280.

Auditorium Building

“The culmination of Louis’ masonry ‘period,’ the Auditorium Building (1887), Congress St. and Michigan Ave., “with its immense mass of ten stories, its tower, weighing thirty million pounds, equivalent to twenty stories — a tower of solid masonry carried on a ‘floating’ foundation; a great raft 67 by 100 feet.” (Autobiography, pp. 293, 309)


Holy Trinity Russian Greek Orthodox Church, 1121 N. Leavitt St., Chicago, designed by Sullivan in 1901.





Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Entrance of Carson Pirie Scott & Co.

The entrance of Carson Pirie Scott & Co., State and Washington Sts., Chicago, designed by Sullivan, 1899, reveals better than any other of Sullivan’s buildings his love of nature and its beauty.

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