On This Day

Louis Sullivan

Architect and Father of Skyscrapers Louis Sullivan

Profession: Architect and Father of Skyscrapers

United States of America

Biography: Credited with having coined the phrase "form follows function," Sullivan was an American architect known as the 'father of skyscrapers' and 'father of modernism.'

Beginning his career in Chicago, he worked for William LeBaron Jenney—the first architect to erect a steel frame building. Chicago was to become a laboratory for a new type of building driven by expanding steel production.

With ready access to steel, structural constraints which had previously determined designs were no longer a problem. Sullivan, while not the first to realise this, was renowned for having leaned into the particular characteristics of steel—hence, "form follows function."

Sullivan attributed this concept to the Roman architect, Vitruvius; however he gave it new meaning in formulating and refining the now iconic design of skyscrapers.

Born: September 3, 1856
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Star Sign: Virgo

Died: April 14, 1924 (aged 67)

Historical Events

  • 1889-12-09 US President Benjamin Harrison dedicates the Chicago Auditorium, designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, then largest building in the US

Quotes by Louis Sullivan

  • "How strange it seems that education, in practice, so often means suppression: that instead of leading the mind outward to the light of day it crowds things in upon it that darken and weary it." - Education

Famous Architects