“It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human, and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function. This is the law.”
– Louis Sullivan 1896
Louis Sullivan’s most famous words, “form ever follows function” are exemplified in the fantastic architectural works he crafted. Sullivan’s ability to perfect the modern steel-framed skyscraper was his first claim to fame. Though he is considered the “father of modernism” for prioritizing architecture’s functionality, Sullivan didn’t abandon his Irish design heritage. He frequently clad his buildings with aesthetics such as arches, geometric designs, and terra cotta decorations. One of his most famous ornamentations is the entrance to the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building. This metal façade became one of Sullivan’s trademarks.
The extraordinary number of architects and preservationists who dedicated their lives to preserving his work is a testament of the importance of Sullivan’s architecture. Champions of his legacy included Richard Nickel, who was killed in the process of rescuing some of Sullivan’s buildings. Nickel’s work was not lost however, and has been published as “The Complete Architecture of Adler and Sullivan.” The buildings that were not preserved are still remembered by some of the ornamental artifacts that were rescued by these preservationists. Many of these artifacts can be seen at Lovejoy Library at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Louis Sullivan was the second architect to win the AIA Gold Medal posthumously. This is awarded "by the national AIA Board of Directors in recognition of a significant body of work of lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture."
Coco Architectural Grilles Metalcraft is dedicated to recognizing the architects who have paved the way for the future of great architecture. In our 2015 Great Architects Series, we will highlight the most influential architects of our time, including their works and character. Enjoy!
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Read about other Great Architects: Antoni Gaudi and Mies Van der Rohe