Schlesinger & Mayer Department Store

Chicago, Illinois, 1899-1904

External aspect

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Louis Sullivan , United States

The Schlesinger & Mayer Department Store was designed as a department store with offices located above. At the time department stores presented a new type of design challenge for which a suitable form still had to be found.

The building’s steel frame construction allowed an organic interpretation of function, enabling the free arrangement of its interior spaces. At the same time it offered the possibility of placing huge shopping windows into the facade, in order to attract the interest of passing shoppers.

The facade of the building shows again the threefold division typical of Sullivan. The bottom two storeys are fitted out with magnificent ornamentation. The original crown of the building was lost in 1906, when Burnham & Co raised the building by a number of storeys.

Louis Sullivan
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