Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan
Electro-plated copper finish over cast iron
16¾ × d × 16”
Louis Henry Sullivan has often been referred to as the “father of skyscrapers,” a designation that would not have been possible without the training and initial success with his partner Dankmar Adler. Adler was formally trained as an engineer and believed that Sullivan’s creative and artistic abilities would be an ideal match to his more technical training. Adler’s premonitions were correct and his sense of structure along with Sullivan’s artistic eye lead them to become extremely successful, designing around 180 buildings during their 15-year partnership.
Adler and Sullivan achieved initial fame as theater architects, using Adler’s expertise in acoustics and Sullivan’s artistic eye to create beautiful and functional designs. One of their most well-known buildings, the Auditorium Building in Chicago, was completed in 1889, with a young Frank Lloyd Wright hired to draft finished drawings of the interior of the project. Wright would spend five years working for the firm, learning from Adler and Sullivan, and developing his distinctive style. —Shapell Manuscript Foundation
One of the most iconic ornamental designs of Louis H. Sullivan, the elevator screen T-plates were created by an unusual process known as electrotype to create maximum sharp detail. The copper surfaces were collected on the mold by an electroplating process, rather than the usual sand-casting. Because the resulting thin skin of ornamental copper was very fragile, a layer of stronger metal was poured into the back to give the piece strength. —Wright