Play with the Rules

No Frills

Fall Conference Proceedings

Author(s): Ang Li

In “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered,” Louis Sullivan lays out a formula for the artistic expression of “ loftiness” centered around a functionalist analysis of the steel-framed American skyscraper. The essay begins with a critique of architecture’s propensity for metaphor, and draws on popular analogies from the time that retraces the classical proportions of the modern offi ce building to the familiar tripartite division of a human fi gure, a pine tree, or an archetypal column. The lower stories of the building recall the base, the “monotonous, uninterrupted series of offi ce ti ers” the shaft , and the expressive organicism of the upper stories the capital.1 Allusions like these point to the power of precedents, and raises the central questi on that came to occupy Sullivan’s career of how to decorate a modern skyscraper.

Volume Editors
Jasmine Benyamin, Kyle Reynolds, Mo Zell, Nikole Bouchard & Whitney Moon