Architecture + Film: Louis Sullivan: The Struggle for American Architecture Comments

Wainwright buildingThe first feature-length documentary about the revolutionary Chicago architect Louis Sullivan (1856-1924) will be screened during the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art's Architecture + Film program on November 16.

In Louis Sullivan: the Struggle for American Architecture, director Mark Richard Smith explores the architect's rapid rise to fame, his tragic decline and the ultimate triumph of his creative spirit. View the trailer

Although revered by architectural enthusiasts in Chicago where he was one of the original practitioners of the Chicago School of architecture in the late 1800s, Sullivan is virtually unknown compared to the fame enjoyed by his protégé and confidante, Frank Lloyd Wright.

Historians refer to Sullivan as the "father of the skyscraper" and creator of the phrase "form follows function." His surviving works in Chicago include the Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University, the Carson Pirie Scott department store (now known as the Sullivan Center) and the James Charnley House (known as the Charnley–Persky House). After designing a number of noted skyscrapers in the 1880s and 1890s, Sullivan ended his career with several small bank commissions throughout the Midwest, which were referred to as "jewel boxes." 

The 2010 documentary (running time: 97 minutes) presents stunning details of Sullivan's buildings and also examines his belief in the connection between social values and architecture.

A short presentation by Jeff Balmer, Assistant Professor at the UNC Charlotte School of Architecture, will precede the screening.


An event reception begins at 6 p.m. in the Bechtler lobby followed by the presentation and film screening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for non-members and $8 for members. Cash bar and free light bites. Tickets may be purchased online, by phone 704.353.9200 or at the visitor services desk.

The Bechtler's Architecture + Film series is developed in conjunction with AIA Charlotte.

Image: Louis Sullivan's Wainwright Building (1891) in St. Louis, Missouri is recognized by historians as America's first modern skyscraper. © 2010 Whitecap Films, Inc.


Friday, November 16, 2012



Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 South Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28202

Website: Click to Visit


Christopher Lawing

Phone: 704-353-9200
Website: Click to Visit

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