Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Adler and Sullivan’s Charnley House, Chicago

Chicago architect Louis H. Sullivan (1856-1924) is remembered for orchestrating lush architectural ornament that integrated organic forms with an underlying geometric structure. The iron oak leaf garland on the front door window grille of the Charnley House in Chicago is indicative of Sullivan’s ingenuity. He also seems to contrast the ornament of his buildings with the geometric forms of the structure itself. For Sullivan this “geometry” was architecture that expressed the idea of democracy.

Additionally, the motif reveals the elegant interior ornamental system and pattern found inside this residential building. As one enters the entry hall of the Charnley House from the foyer, you’re immediately face-to-face with the warmth of the hearth and tiled mosaic pattern as illustrated above. From this vantage point the dining room is to the left and the front parlor and upstairs stairway to the right.

The website for the Society of Architectural Historians states: “Adler and Sullivan’s most renowned residential design was the commission for James Charnley on Astor Street in Chicago, completed in 1892. On commissions that the firm received between 1887 and 1893, his highly talented draftsman and fellow designer, Frank Lloyd Wright, assisted Sullivan.”

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