Chicago Commercial/Sullivanesque

In the 1880s and 1890s tall, steel framed buildings began shaping the Chicago skyline and quickly spread to other metropolitan areas.


Technological innovations in steel manufacturing enabled taller buildings to be built with fireproof floors and fast-moving elevators. Louis Sullivan, one of Chicago’s influential architects, most successfully employed the new steel technology, using terra cotta ornament to define the steel framing. Minneapolis architects adopted many of Sullivan’s design techniques for their larger commercial commissions in the downtown district. Recognized as precursors to the steel-and-glass skyscrapers, these Chicago Commercial buildings provide an important link to the nineteenth century.

Common Characteristics:

  • Steel-frame construction
  • Masonry cladding
  • Decorative terra cotta
  • Vertical strips of windows

Chicago Commercial Style in Minneapolis:

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505 Fourth Ave. S., Room 320
Minneapolis, MN 55415