Louis Sullivan is regarded highly by historians and architects as a pioneer in American commercial architecture. As an exemplary model of his work, the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building showcases his philosophy of form following function. Built in 1899 for dry goods merchant Schlesinger-Mayer, it was his last commercial commission as an independent architect. The building was erected in two phases. In 1899, Sullivan designed a nine-story building. The second building, which is annexed to the first, is 12 stories high and was built in 1903. Burnham and Root was the architectural firm hired for this later addition, although they based their designs entirely on Sullivan's work.
An iron and steel framework supports this National Historic Landmark, which is most notable for its elaborate ironwork ornament on the first and second floor facades. A light-colored terra cotta covers the third through 12th floors. Sullivan's designs combine organic and geometric shapes in intricate and delicate patterns that are the hallmark of his work. The interior space is mixed-use on all floors with main stairways in the northeast and southeast corners of the building.
The building has been renamed the Sullivan Center and recently underwent an award winning rehabilitation. It is now positioned to be the home of retail, office, restaurant, school, and entertainment users.
The Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company building, now known as the Sullivan Center, is located at 1 State St. on the southeast corner of State and Madison streets in the Loop. The building is open to the public during normal business hours. Call 312-675-5500 or visit the Sullivan Center website for further information.
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