Thursday, February 9, 2012

Louis H. Sullivan: “The James Charnley House”

From top-down: west facade, detail: entry door, and north facade

The James Charnley House in Chicago, just a couple of blocks from where I’m staying this semester, was designed by Louis H. Sullivan in collaboration with Frank Lloyd Wright in 1891 and built in 1892. The Charnley-Persky House (as it’s now known) is located in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago and is designated a National Historic Landmark. The home is an important work in the development of modern residential architecture.

Dr. Paul E. Sprague writes a concise summary about Louis Sullivan’s modern works in his book, Guide to Frank Lloyd Wright and Prairie School Architecture in Oak Park about the significance of Sullivan’s architectural design:
… it is Sullivan’s role as inventor of the first modern architectural style in America and as leader of a younger group of radical architects [“Prairie School”] that assures him an esteemed position in American cultural history. Accordingly, it was Sullivan, not Wright, who “founded” the Prairie School of Architecture….

… Sullivan achieved the goal of a modern style by largely ignoring the precedents of historic buildings. Instead he based their masses, shapes and details on the abstract forms of plane and solid geometry. His architectural ornament, by contrast, was based both on geometric shapes and stylized plants. In keeping with his academic American and French training. Sullivan’s modern style was one of monumentality in composition and formality in planning.  
Sprague seems to capture the essence of the design elements of the Charnley House. In fact, Frank Lloyd Wright acknowledged that the Charnley House was the “first modern house in America.”
  1. Sprague, Paul E. Guide to Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School Architecture in Oak Park. 2nd ed. Oak Park, Illinois: Village of Oak Park, 1978. 8-9. Print.

1 comment:

  1. This is real great architecture; really like it.


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