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Burnham, Daniel Hudson

BURNHAM, DANIEL HUDSON


Daniel H. Burnham (18461912), one of America's most important architects, helped to rebuild Chicago after the Chicago Fire of 1871. Burnham made important contributions to the development of the skyscraper. Long after his death, his visionary ideas about urban and regional planning remained influential as a way to accommodate work, home, and recreation in close proximity to each other. His 1909 plan to transform Chicago into a beautiful, functional city was the first comprehensive urban plan in the United States.

Daniel Burnham was born near New York City on September 4, 1846. His family moved to Chicago when he was nine. He graduated from a public high school in Chicago but failed to obtain admission to college. In his early adulthood, Burnham worked as retail clerk, mined for gold in Nevada, and ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Illinois State Senate. Still in his early twenties, Burnham was accepted as an apprentice by a leading Chicago architect, William Le Baron Jenney.

In 1872 Burnham, age twenty-six, moved to the firm of Carter, Drake, and Wight, where he worked as a draftsman. A year later he went into partnership with a fellow draftsman at the firm, John Wellborn Root. The partnership turned out to be a profitable one. Root was creative and versatile; Burnham, practical and businesslike, was a superb administrator. They prospered after the Great Chicago Fire, which decimated downtown Chicago. Between 1873 and 1891 the firm designed 165 private residences and 75 buildings of various types.

Most of these buildings were European in influence: their exterior decorations echoed ancient Greek and Roman monuments. In 1891 Burnham and Root adapted modern techniques to meet the demand for more centralized office space in Chicago. Three of their buildings have been designated landmarks. The Rookery (1886) and the Reliance Building (1890) both used a skeleton frame construction. The sixteen-story Monadnock building (1891) was the last and tallest American masonry skyscraper.

In 1893, two years after the death of his partner, Burnham became chief of construction and chief consulting architect for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Burnham teamed with architectural firms from all over the eastern United States to create an eclectic "White City"a community of buildings and landscapes that combined boulevards, gardens and classical facades. The Colombian Exposition was a triumph and it made Burnham famous. That year he received honorary architectural degrees from Harvard and Yale Universities, and he was elected president of the American Institute of Architects.

The "White City" became the nucleus of Burnham's 1909 plan to transform Chicago into a beautiful city. Critics have said that Burnham ignored the social side of urban planning in his zeal for a visually attractive and smoothly functioning city. He was also accused of failing to realize that boulevards lined with offices would be deserted at night. Despite these criticisms, much of his great plan was put into effect. Some $300 million worth of architectural projects were built before the Great Depression called it to a halt in the 1930s.

Burnham was also faulted for trying to make Chicago into another Paris, France. The neoclassical architecture, broad avenues, and public gardens he favored echoed those of the French capital. Famed Chicago architect Louis Sullivan (18561924) was said to have complained that Burnham's designs set American architecture back by 50 years. Notwithstanding these attacks, many of Burnham's ideas have stood the test of time and influenced city planners across the country.

One great legacy was Burnham's vision of making the Lake Michigan lakefront a recreational resource. His plan proposed the creation of a string of landfill islands and peninsulas, which would provide protection against natural erosion and storms and would also be an attractive site for pleasure boating, picnics, and other outdoor activities. Although only one island was built, the Lincoln Park shoreline was extended with five miles of landfill. Legacies of Burnham's plan also included Lakeshore Drive and Grant Park. A ring of forest preserves surrounding the city provided the greenbelt that Burnham anticipated in 1907, long before the waves of population growth in the twentieth century transformed the city.

In 1923 Burnham's recommendation for a complex of railroad stations west of the Loop (the historic center of the city) resulted in the construction of Union Station. In addition, Chicago's expressway system followed Burnham's plan for regional highways, though he could not have anticipated the effect of the automobile on American cities.

Burnham was asked to serve as a planning consultant by many other major American cities, including San Francisco, Detroit, and Cleveland. In 1905 he was consulted by then-Secretary of War William Howard Taft (18571930) for advice on a plan to rebuild and modernize Manila in the Philippines. In addition to his work as an urban planner, by the time of his death in 1912 Burnham was responsible for the design of several important buildings, including the Flatiron Building, New York (1901); Union Station, Washington, D.C. (1909); and Filene's Store, Boston (1912). Each of these buildings had a lasting influence on the twentieth century cityscape, and through them, Daniel Burnham's vision endures.

See also: Chicago Fire of 1871, Reinforced Concrete


FURTHER READING

Hines, Thomas S. Burnham of Chicago: Architect and Planner. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974.

Hitchcock, Henry R. Architecture: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, 4th ed. New York: Penguin Books, 1977.

Hoffman, Donald. The Architecture of John Root. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973.

Moore, Charles. Daniel H. Burnham, Architect, Planner of Cities. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1921.

Reps, John W. The Making of Urban America: A History of City Planning in the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.

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"Burnham, Daniel Hudson." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Jun. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Daniel Hudson Burnham

Daniel Hudson Burnham

Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912) was an American architect and city planner whose maxim, "think big," dominated his successful career. The firm of Burnham & Root was important in developing the skyscraper.

Daniel H. Burnham was born in Henderson, N.Y. In 1868 he worked for the architect William Le Baron Jenney in Chicago and then for Carter, Drake & Wight, where he met John Welborn Root. In 1873 the firm of Burnham & Root was established, and Burnham's career until 1891, the year of Root's death, was inseparable from that of his talented, innovative partner.

The firm, which employed as many as 60 draftsmen, moved into the just-completed Montauk Block (1882-1883) in Chicago, which they had designed. Although load-bearing masonry walls were outdated by 1889, Burnham & Root designed the 16-story Monadnock Building in Chicago (completed in 1891) of brick construction. The walls enclosed a portal-braced iron frame consisting of girders riveted to the columns for wind bracing and structural stability; this was the first example of portal bracing. Burnham & Root's further development of this structural innovation was the completely steel structure of the Rand McNally Building (1889-1890) in Chicago. Their four-story Reliance Building (1890; increased to 13 stories in 1895), also in Chicago, with terracotta facing material, gave expression to the steel-and-glass skyscrapers of the 1890s.

Burnham and Root were to have been the coordinators of the World's Columbian Exposition to be held in 1893 in Chicago, but on the day of the first planning conference Root contracted pneumonia, and died. Charles Follen McKim of the noted architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White filled the void left by Root and influenced Burnham in his "think big" attitude. Numerous architectural firms from Chicago, New York, Boston, and Kansas City designed specific buildings, and Frederick Law Olmsted was the landscape architect. The classical style provided the unifying element in the architecture of the exposition.

In 1891 Burnham established the firm of D. H. Burnham, which was replaced in 1896 by D. H. Burnham & Co. In 1894 he became president of the American Institute of Architects.

After the Chicago exposition of 1893 Burnham devoted his efforts to the "City Beautiful" movement of civic planning. "Make no little plans," he said, "for they have no magic to stir men's blood … Make big plans, aim high…. " His city planning aimed at creating beauty in a geometry of streets, with large parks and recreational areas and boulevards leading from a civic center to other nodal points of the city. In 1903 Burnham replanned Manila in the Philippines in this manner, ridding the city of its chaos and yet retaining its picturesque image. Baguio, 160 miles away, was planned as a summer retreat in the hills, with a dominant geometry adapted to the contours. Three days before the great earthquake of April 15, 1906, Burnham submitted his plan for San Francisco. Never implemented, it attempted to circumnavigate the hills and tie the whole street pattern together by an outer ring road. Chicago was replanned, and Burnham's ideas for a coordinated system of surface and subsurface freight distribution, linked to the waterfront activities, were partially realized. Washington, D.C., was "beatified" and railroads were removed from the Mall; Burnham built Union Station there.

Burnham's firm designed over 100 major projects: civic centers, office blocks, department stores, libraries, and numerous stations for the Penn Central Railroad. The station in Pittsburgh has been described as "Burnham baroque," and one critic sees the beginnings of Art Nouveau in its flowing lines.

Further Reading

One biography of Burnham is Charles Moore, Daniel H. Burnham, Architect, Planner of Cities (2 vols., 1921). Structural innovations by Burnham and Root are discussed in Carl W. Condit's publications, including American Building Art: The Nineteenth Century (1960) and The Chicago School of Architecture (1964).

Additional Sources

Hines, Thomas S., Burnham of Chicago, architect and planner, New York: Oxford University Press, 1974. □

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Burnham, Daniel Hudson

Burnham, Daniel Hudson (1846–1912). American architect. A first-class administrator and entrepreneur, he was also gifted in that he could bring out the best in those with whom he collaborated. Born in Henderson, NY, he entered the office of Loring & Jenney (1867–8) where he acquired some architectural experience, and in 1873 formed a partnership with John Wellborn Root. As Burnham & Root, the firm was significant in the creation of the Chicago School: their first skyscraper was the (demolished) Montauk Building, Chicago, IL(1881–2), and other tall buildings followed in which load-bearing walls were mixed with framed structures. Then came the sixteen-storey Monadnock Building, Chicago (1889–91), with load-bearing walls, tiers of canted bay-windows, and huge crowning coved cornice, and then the (demolished) Masonic Temple, Chicago (1890–2), with twenty-two storeys and a steel skeleton. After Root's early death Burnham set up with Atwood in 1891, and built up one of the largest practices in the USA. With Atwood the firm produced the Reliance Building, Chicago (1891–4), which further developed architecture using a metal skeleton: a fourteen-storey tower with glass and terracotta cladding, it looked forward to C20 developments in which structural frames would be clearly expressed. Burnham was appointed the co-ordinator of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago (1890–3), and began to promote a Beaux-Arts Classicism as the favoured style for the buildings, which had a profound effect on American architecture and planning for many years to come. In Burnham's firm's own work (e.g. the Fuller (‘Flat-Iron’) Building, NYC (1902–3), and Wanamaker's Store, Philadelphia, PA (1909)), elements of Renaissance architecture were grafted on. Burnham's fame, connected with his impressive Beaux-Arts Classicism, caused him to be employed as consultant to Self-ridges Store for the new building (1907) in Oxford Street, London (by Atkinson and Swales): it was as innovative and as grand as Burnet's contemporary extension to the British Museum. The Beaux-Arts principles of powerful axes, symmetry, and confident use of Classical motifs were adopted by Burnham for his proposals for the City Beautiful in which he attempted to bring uniformity and an academic approach to urban America: his plan for Washington, DC, attempted to restore the eroded parts of L' Enfant's design. The firm's Union Station, Washington, DC (1903–7), was its first fully developed Beaux-Arts design, with a façade of five huge bays and a triple-arched entrance leading to a barrel-vaulted space worthy of Roman thermae. Burnham's plan for Chicago (1906–9), informed by his success with the Exposition, was influential at the time. His publications include The World's Columbian Exposition: The Final Report of the Director of Works (1898), and (with Edward H. Bennett) (1874–1994)) Plan of Chicago (1909). When he died Burnham's name was widely respected, and his plans for Chicago and Washington, DC, determined the development of both until the 1950s. However, as International Modernism gained the upper hand after the 1939–45 war, his reputation fell, but in C21 his work seems greatly preferable to the urban deserts created by those who decried his work.

Bibliography

Condit (1952, 1961, 1964, 1968, 1973);
Hines (1974);
D. Hoffmann (1973);
C. Moore (1968);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
Roessel (1996);
Jane Turner (1996);
Zukowsky (ed.) (1987, 1993)

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Burnham, Daniel Hudson

Daniel Hudson Burnham (bûr´nəm), 1846–1912, American architect and city planner b. Henderson, N.Y. He was trained in architects' offices in Chicago. In that city he established (1873) a partnership with John W. Root and soon gained many of the most important architectural commissions of the day. Their Chicago works include the Monadnock Building; the 20-story Masonic Temple Building (1892), the first important skeleton skyscraper; the Reliance Building; and the "Rookery" offices. Among their other works were the Flatiron Building and the Wanamaker store in New York City, Union Station in Washington, D.C., and buildings in Cleveland, Buffalo, and San Francisco.

Burnham and Root also designed the general plan for Chicago's World's Columbian Exposition (1893) and through it exerted an enormous influence upon contemporaneous civic design. In 1901, Burnham served with C. F. McKim, F. L. Olmsted, Jr., and Augustus Saint-Gaudens on the Senate Park Commission in planning for the future beautification of Washington, D.C. With E. H. Bennett he created a civic improvement plan of great importance for Chicago (1907), much of which has since been put into execution. He also prepared plans for Baltimore, Duluth, and San Francisco, and was commissioned by the U.S. government to design plans for Manila and other cities in the Philippines.

See studies by T. Hines (1974, 1979) and K. Schaffer (2003).

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Burnham, Daniel Hudson

Burnham, Daniel Hudson (1846–1912) US architect and city planner. With his partner John W. Root, Burnett pioneered the development of early steel-frame and modern commercial architecture. Designs include the Reliance Building (1890) and the Masonic Temple Building (1891), both in Chicago.

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