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Sullivan also mentored Frank Lloyd Wright during a five-year period. The link between their architectural styles is undeniable, even if Wright ended up eclipsing his former teacher in the end. This clock mosaic was done by Louis Millet more on him in a moment. This feature shows how Sullivan could take something practical and mundane — a clock — and elevate it to the level of art by creating a beautiful design.

This series of 9 panels faces the east and measures 15 feet by 40 feet wide.

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Light positively floods in and illuminates a vast majority of the space. They certainly evoke a cathedral-like atmosphere. But on closer look, you can see Millet-Sullivan used a simple but secular combination of geometric and organic shapes. Overhead, a skylight in a range of blue and subtle lilacs recreates the sky. The scale of this installation runs almost the entire length of the interior, allowing a wash of filter light to envelope the space.

Reminds me of a kaleidoscope. He founded the Chicago School of Architecture in and was its dean while also teaching at the Art Institute of Chicago. Louis, and one of the two stained glass domes at the Chicago Cultural Exchange.

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To my local Cedar Rapids fans, our city also has a Millet connection. He designed the windows of the now-demolished First Christian Church.

Sullivan also collaborated with Kristian Schneider, a Norwegian immigrant who was a sculptor. Schneider is credited for this frieze of gold terra cotta tiles.


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From a preservation perspective, the Grinnell bank is significant because it remains largely unaltered:. Small in scale, it is monumental in effect — the exterior is bold and solid — the interior is aglow with light and color. In my personal opinion, the bank is noteworthy because it is a study in architectural motifs. You must use your eyes to find the themes.

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And this site screams symmetry. The interior frieze mirrors the finials on the exterior cornice. The stained glass offers a different color experience from the exterior vs. Read my post about this beautiful building! The Merchants National Bank is only one of eight remaining jewel box banks, all of which are located in the Midwest. Iowa is home to three! I hope to experience them all in the near future.


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Unable to swing commissions in Chicago or other major cities, he accepted an offer to design a new headquarters for the National Farmers' Bank in Owatonna, a small farming town about 60 miles south of Minneapolis. The resulting structure was so extraordinary that he basically spent the remainder of his career designing variations of it.

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Guarding Treasure in Louis Sullivan’s Banks

The building is often described as resembling a jewel box or strongbox because of its imposing but surprisingly modern facade and lavishly ornamented interior. Cesar Pelli, former dean of the Yale University School of Architecture as well as the designer of the World Financial Center in New York, Canary Wharf in London and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the tallest buildings in the world, calls the Owatonna bank ''a masterpiece'' and ''one of the most beautiful things Sullivan -- or any architect -- has ever designed.

Lauren Weingarden, author of the book ''Louis H. Sullivan: The Banks,'' says, ''You feel like you're walking into a cathedral. Sullivan went on to design seven other banks, the last in They are the main work of his later years. He died bankrupt in Today, five of the buildings are still being used as financial institutions. In addition to their continuing value as commercial structures, the banks are much visited by architecture-minded tourists.

The banks vary in their conditions. Some, such as the ones in Owatonna, Columbus and Sidney, have been meticulously maintained over the years. Others have endured successive waves of modernizing and renovating but remain basically intact.

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One of the worst maintained, until recently, was the Adams Land and Loan office in Algona. The structure -- a 1,square-foot brick shoebox of a building -- is one of the simplest Sullivan ever designed. Its defining features were a series of 12 large stained glass windows on the front and side facades along with a pair of terra cotta urns that originally flanked the front door. Inside, apparently, was even simpler, though no one is entirely sure what the place looked like when it opened. The original plans have disappeared, as have any photos that might have been taken at the time.

What does exist is a series of drawings done by an associate of Sullivan's for an addition that was never built, showing the approximate layout of the building.

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Aside from a beamed ceiling and a mosaic tile floor, nothing of the original interior survives. The late Hugh Morrison, who wrote the first biography of Sullivan back in the 's, thought it was one of the architect's best buildings. Nothing seems to have gone right for the Adams building from the very beginning. It was built to be a bank in , but the owner never received a charter. Instead it became a real estate office and then the headquarters for the Pharmacists' Mutual Insurance Company.

Then, in the 70's, it became a haberdashery. In , the store went bankrupt and the owner sold the windows and the urns to a salvage dealer in Minneapolis.