Sunday, May 2, 2010

DANIEL BURNHAM. A Lucky Break for Peirce Anderson. And Peter Weber

Frank Lloyd Wright made much bruhaha of Daniel Burnham's offer to send him (all expenses paid) to the Ecole des Beaux Arts in the mid 1890's (perhaps early 1894) (after Louis Sullivan had canned him for moonlighting). But rather than a feather in Wright's cap, this offer showed that Burnham may have been thinking ahead. Far ahead . Ecole graduates were few and far between (especially in the midwest). And his lead designer, Charles Atwood, may have been showing his .... opium. A designer with international (beaux arts) appeal (for the corporates) and the advantage of Chicago School roots (for the locals) would be of real benefit. But that rare Ecole degree would be an absolute necessity for D.H. Burnham and Company to compete on a national scale..   But young  Frank (and later old Frank), loudly, bragged that he said "no" (saving Burnham from the PR nightmare of an affair with Mamah Cheney, the European tryst and the tragedies of Spring Green) to the offer that could have changed him from a house designer to a major force in Chicago's built environment.

Daniel wasted no time after Wright's refusal. The second choice was a young electrical engineer from Harvard who showed up in late 1894 asking Mr. Burnhams's advice regarding a Beaux Arts education . William Peirce Anderson returned with his Ecole degree to Chicago in 1899 and began his career with D.H. Burnham as the designer of Marshall Field & Company's State Street store. He was soon joined by Edward Bennett (at his own urging). Frank Lloyd Wright was history.

And Chicago -- began to take form as we know it today.

The period between 1895 (Atwood's death) and 1899 (when Pierce Anderson joined the firm) allowed designer, Peter Weber, an unforeseen opportunity: The Silversmith. (Detail Below).

Nice job. Nice renovation, too.

Incidentally, Phoebe Hearst (of the California Hearsts) ended up paying for Edward Bennett's education at the Ecole. More on this, though, later.




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