Architecture / Style / Sullivanesque


  • 1890-1915 (Whiffen)
  • 1890-1920 (Blumenson)


An intricate weaving of linear and geometric forms with stylized foliage in a symmetrical pattern is the unique element of the Sullivanesque style, originated by Louis Sullivan (1856-1924). Bold geometric facades are pierced with either arched or lintel-type openings. The wall surface is highlighted with extensive low-relief sculptural ornamentation in terra cotta. Buildings often are topped with deep projecting eaves and flat roofs. The multi-story office complex is highly regimented into specific zones – ground story, intermediate floors, and the attic or roof. The intermediate floors are arranged in vertical bands (Blumenson, 65).


Leading Examples

National Farmer’s Bank, Owatonna, Minnesota

Wainright Building, St. Louis, Missouri: Sullivan’s murky theorizing and his singular genius with ornamented created a personal style that had few imitators or followers. However, Sullivan is one of the few human beings to whom Frank Loyd Wright publicly acknowledged a debt of influence in his career (Blumenson, 65).

Prudential Building, Buffalo, New York.


Sources Cited

Also see Architecture / Style index.