"So remember, and bear ever in mind in your thinking and your doings, that FORM EVER FOLLOWS FUNCTION, that this is the law — a universal truth." One of the foremost exponents of form-and-function architecture, and considered by many to be the father of the modern skyscraper, Louis Henri Sullivan (1856–1924) was one of America's most original and influential architects, and an extraordinarily important writer on the nature and function of architecture. Known for his many commercial buildings — Auditorium Building in Chicago (1889), Wainwright Building in St. Louis (1891), Prudential Building in Buffalo (1895), and Carson, Pirie and Scott Building in Chicago (1899 & 1903) — Sullivan is equally admired today for his two major books: The Autobiography of an Idea and Kindergarten Chats. In this creative, seminal work, his theories about architecture, art, education, and life in general are presented in the form of dialogues, or "chats," between an architect and a novice. Sullivan's contempt for 19th-century eclectic architecture ("That the bulk of our architecture is rotten to the core, is a statement which does not admit of one solitary doubt"), his striving for a more functional approach, and his theory of the skyscraper are just a few of the principles and insights that emerge in these pages. As the architect and writer Claude Bragdon has remarked: "Kindergarten Chats remains in my memory as one of the most provocative, amusing, astounding, inspiring things that I have ever read." This edition is the first low-priced reprint of the 1918 definitive edition of Kindergarten Chats, which was personally revised by Sullivan himself, who rewrote those chapters and generally streamlined the argument of the original version. Eight additional papers, covering the years 1885–1906, supplement the basic text: they include "Ornament in Architecture," "The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered," "The Young Man in Architecture," and "What is Architecture?" Architecture students, architects, artists, educators, and readers who enjoy the stimulus of a lively and iconoclastic mind will all be attracted by the magnetic power of this bold, thought-provoking book.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Sullivan was a great thinker fighting the customs of his time. Not something I would have said after taking my required survey courses in architectural history, but since reading some of the kindergarten chats my view of Sullivan has been much improved. We were mostly told that Sullivan's only contribution worth mentioning was the famous quote "form follows function," and his essay on tall buildings. It's a shame we weren't given a true picture of Sullivan's contributions. This book contains a strong argument directed toward architects of Sullivan's day (early 1900's). To Sullivan, architects at the time largely worked within certain "styles" and they left little room for real creative thought. His argument to leave the styles to the past when they were still culturally relevant and move onward. This sort of thinking lead to the Modernist movement and toward our current built environment. His argument is still applicable however, when we find ourselves at another...
It seems hard to believe that I, or anyone, could possibly dare add to the body of praise (or criticism) of this stunning collection of articles completed by Louis Sullivan right after the turn of last century. Remarkably, even though written by an architect, this work has the beauty, form, and flow of the poetry of deep thought about lessons we can learn from nature - with barely a word about architecture. This book is a must for the romantic. A stimulating and fresh connection spanning 100 years with a truly brilliant mind. It is essential reading for the 21st century. Louis Sullivan developes his arguments with superbly fine points and magnificantly developed reasoning. I am humbled to think I can praise this dear and departed genius. I am in debted to this man's universal thinking, clarity of mind, and depth of soul. Read this book. Love it. Respect it. Re-read it. Cherish it.
Sullivan first wrote Kindergarten Chats to be published in the periodical Interstate Architect and Builder, 1901-1902; this was reprinted in book form in 1934. In 1918, however, Sullivan revised his manuscripts for Kindergarten Chats; the revisions remained unpublished until 1947 in the present work. The 1918 revisions show the changes and growth that Sullivan experienced professionally, and are considered to be among his best works. There are numerous changes not in the first book edition of 1934. Scarce
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