Guaranty Building by Louis Sullivan

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Now called the Prudential Building, the Guaranty Building was one of the first skyscrapers. It was designed by Sullivan and Adler and was built in the 1890s in Buffalo, New York. The Guaranty Building immediately recalls Sullivan’s earlier design of the Wainwright Building, which set the template for future skyscrapers. Sullivan believed that tall buildings should revel in their tallness, and accordingly, the building is completely vertical and rectangular; it rises from the sidewalk to the capital without sloping, and there are no curves or triangles in the design. He also held to the creed “form follows function”, so while the capital is ornately decorated, the shaft of the building is sharply delineated into a grid of windows and offices.

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As with the Wainwright Building, the exterior of Guaranty Building is divided into three sections: The first two floors form a firm base and contain retail stores, the shaft of the building soars vertically upwards and houses offices, and the decorative capital crowns the structure. While both buildings have a similar red color, the exterior of the Guaranty Building is covered in red terra cotta tiles, rather than red brick. It’s also several floors taller. The building is more square horizontally, and the steel skeleton is more prominent in its design.

Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral (Chicago) by Louis Sullivan

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Historically, the Orthodox Church has not been a popular denomination in America and the Western world, instead being prominent in eastern Europe and Central Asia, notably in Russia. Around 1901, in Chicago, Orthodox immigrants from these areas commissioned Louis Sullivan to design an Orthodox church for their community. (Only in 1923 would it be promoted to a cathedral.) The building was designed in the style of Orthodox churches in the immigrants’ homelands.

The building is quietly beautiful. While the church is not small, it is not like some of Louis Sullivan’s other buildings, which were massive, towering affairs. It’s elegant and classy, with a tasteful white and gold exterior and a dark grey roof. The design is purposefully reminiscent of rural, Eurasian churches. The building looks like a cluster of structures, each with different roof heights, angles, and projections, but they fit together harmoniously.

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The interior is spacious and ornately decorated. Unlike traditional Protestant churches, which are often simple, functional buildings, the Orthodox tradition involves artful church buildings, overflowing interior artwork, and resplendent altarpieces. Today, it’s used as the cathedral church for the Diocese of the Midwest, and Liturgy services are still held there. I’m glad that the building is still in use; I think it’s good that churchgoers can experience the building’s beauty, rather than it merely being a landmark or attraction.

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FJMT + Archimedia / Business School and Teaching Complex

FJMT- Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp in association with Archimedia are the architects who designed this modern complex campus building in Auckland, New Zealand. The plan for this building was developed around the cultural and collaborative exchange of knowledge and learning but also in compliment with the side landscape valley surrounding the area. The shapes are mostly organic, two ribbon forms created through layers of stainless steel and glass, incorporating a suspended external and glazed shade-panel of titanium inter-layers.

It is very important for an educational environment like this one to be not only open and friendly, but to have as much natural light as possible. As I mentioned already, the building is composed by large pieces of glass which connect and shape into beautiful, shade panel facades for working or resting. As we heard from the developers of the Devon Energy Towers in Oklahoma city; Klay Kimker and Shannon Fetz, higher productivity is based on a healthy working environment, which is mostly related to open space, more natural light and an area for communication and collaboration. The Business School and Teaching Complex perfectly exhibits this ideal situation.

609 Main at Houston, Texas

This gorgeous 48 story tower that stands tall in a popular Texan city is known for its absolute elegance and regality. Personally I think this tower looks like a slightly different variation of the Devon Energy Center we have in OKC. This skyscraper houses an impressive modern café and a digital working bar. Construction is expected to be finished by early 2017, and the parking garage connected estimates to house 1200 cars. Oversized stairwells bring an airy feeling to this wide open office space, and wide glass windows offer natural sunlight and a lack of artificial light during the day. Jon Pickard has yet again created an environmentally friendly structure, and it has the grace of any other skyscraper in Houston, Texas.

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“Bonjour Tristesse” apartments, Schlesische Straße, Berlin

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The city of Berlin was left in shambles after the air raids of World War II. An urban renewal project called the International Building Exhibition Berlin was devised in the 1980’s to rebuild parts of the city that had been destroyed. The apartment building, Wohnhaus Schlesisches Tor, was Álvaro Siza Vieira’s contribution to this revitalization movement, and also his first work outside of his country. The building is commonly known as Bonjour Tristesse (French for “Hello Sadness”) due to graffiti marking the top front of the building. Bonjour Tristesse was not the first re-build in its location after the war’s destruction. First there were some small store fronts which did not fit in well with the surrounding architecture, nor did they provide any desperately needed housing. The store fronts were removed for Siza, whose design featured store fronts on the ground level and social housing above. When I first looked at this building, the curved facade immediately reminded me of Antoni Gaudí’s work, such as his Casa Milà (popularly known as La Pedrera), an apartment building he designed in Spain. It makes me wonder, to what extent did the work of Gaudí, a man who was from Spain, influence the work and education of Siza, who was from Portugal? Surely every architect knows Gaudí well.

The image below shows the small store fronts which did not match the architecture of their surroundings.

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Information and images credited to this article:

Devon Energy Center, OKC OK

The Devon Tower is by far the newest and most prominent building in all of Oklahoma City. It is now a major staple in Oklahoman postcards, and in any picture of an Oklahoman sunset from the city. Designed and built by Pickard and Chilton, it is the largest building to earn a gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating west of the Mississippi and is an enjoyable workspace for hundreds of employees. The construction of such an iconic tower was not hindered by pricey materials or any other issues. The Devon Energy Center uses about 41% less water than most buildings its size, and the use of natural light has greatly reduced the electricity bill. The interior of the tower is sleek and futuristic, with outstanding use of glass paneling and indoor vegetation to enhance nature’s presence in our busy worklives. Overall, it is an absolutely phenomenal structure with amazing details and attention to the environment.

Architect: Jon Pickard


Devon Energy World Headquarters, Architects:  Pickard Chilton Architects, Gensler
Devon Energy World Headquarters, Architects: Pickard Chilton Architects, Gensler

Sayamaike Historical Museum



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Sayamaike Historical Museum is located on the edge of Sayamaike Pond, a reservoir in Osakasayama, Japan; it was designed by Tadao Ando in 2001. Ando is known for his use of water, and here is no exception. He uses water as a mirror to reflect the sky and museum; something about the stillness of the water is calming and helps the building to feel like it’s a part of its surroundings. The waterfalls that are placed around the building are also very interesting. Part of the museums purpose is to inform people of ancient Japanese water engineering, and I think the waterfalls are a great way to show the might of the ancient techniques. The walls of the museum are made of rough cut granite stone. I really like the stone; somehow it does make the building feel less intrusive. The grayish color emphasizes the surrounding greenery, which is a great that the building contributes something to nature instead of simply taking up space. 

Eero Saarinen – Gateway Arch

St_Louis_night_expblend_croppedThe St. Louis Gateway Arch was one of the worlds first looks at Eero Saarinen’s architecture. After beating out over 170 architects, including his father, in a design competition for the Jefferson National Memorial Expansion, Eero Saarinen brought his name into the architecture world as himself and not just his fathers son. The free standing arch was completed on October 28th, 1965 –5 years after Saarinen’s death– and at completion was 630 feet tall.

Continue reading Eero Saarinen – Gateway Arch

Wainwright Building by Louis Sullivan

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The Wainwright Building is a skyscraper in St. Louis; it was built in 1890–1891, and was designed by Sullivan and Adler. It was one of the first skyscrapers, and it defined the style of a modern skyscraper. The earlier skyscrapers were designed basically as smaller buildings stacked on top of each other. Louis Sullivan thought this looked ungainly, believing instead that skyscrapers should be elegant and should celebrate and their tallness. He designed a building that soars upward, reveling in its height.

The building is divided visually into three sections. The first few floors provide a firm base, topped by a ledge. Above, the remaining seven floors of the building are one continuously rising unit. The windows are arranged in a grid that hints at the skeleton frame inside the building. Between windows, uninterrupted vertical pillars draw the eye upwards, while the horizontal rows are recessed. The final section is the strong, decorated capital with an overhang that projects outward from the very top of the building.

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The Wainwright Building is built out of red brick, and it’s very rectangular-geometric. The building is rectangular and right angles define every feature; there are no curves or triangles. It also doesn’t slope at all: It rises directly from the sidewalk to the capital without deviation from the vertical. I like the confidence that the building exhibits. It knows what it is and it doesn’t apologize for that or pretend to be anything different. The continuity of the building is very important; it’s a single, solid block, rather than being broken into various tiers. The design is clean and elegant.

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