Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Daniel Hudson Burnham (September 4, 1846 - June 1, 1912) was born in Henderson, New York and raised in Chicago, Illinois. His parents brought him up under the teachings of the Swedenborgian Church of New Jerusalem , which ingrained in him the strong belief that man should strive to be of service to others. After failing admissions tests for both Harvard and Yale, and an unsuccessful stint at politics, Burnham apprenticed as a draftsman under William LeBaron Jenney. At age 26, Burnham moved on to the Chicago offices of Carter, Drake, and Wright, where he met future business partner John Wellborn Root (1850-1891). With his new partner, Burnham would become the architect of the one of the first American skyscrapers; the Masonic Temple Building  in Chicago. Measuring 21 stories and 302 feet, the Temple held claims as the tallest building of its time, but was torn down in 1939.
Following Root’s premature death at the hands of pneumonia in 1891, the firm became known as D.H. Burnham and Co. Under the design influence of Root, the firm produced modern buildings as part of the Chicago School. Burnham and Root had accepted responsibility as chief of construction for the World Columbian Exposition on Chicago’s south lakefront. The largest world’s fair to that date, it celebrated the 400-year anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ famous voyage. After Root's death, plans were radically changed from Root's modern and colorful style to a Classical Revival style. Considered the first example of a comprehensive planning document in the nation, the fairground was complete with grand boulevards, classical building facades, and lush gardens. Often called the "White City", it popularized neoclassical architecture in a monumental and rational Beaux-Arts plan. The remaining population of architects in the U.S. was soon asked by clients to incorporate similar elements into their designs.
In 1909, Burnham and assistant Edward H. Bennett prepared The Plan of Chicago, which laid out plans for the future of the city. It was the first comprehensive plan for the controlled growth of an American city; an outgrowth of the City Beautiful movement. The plan included ambitious proposals for the lakefront and river and declared that every citizen should be within walking distance of a park. Sponsored by the Commercial Club of Chicago , Burnham donated his services in hopes of furthering his own cause.
Plans and conceptual designs of the south lakefront from the Exposition came in handy, as he envisioned Chicago being a "Paris on the Prairie". French inspired public works constructions, fountains, and boulevards radiating from a central, domed municipal palace became Chicago’s new backdrop. The plan set the standard for urban design, anticipating future need to control unexpected urban growth.
City planning projects did not stop at Chicago though; Burnham helped shape cities such as Cleveland, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Manila in the Philippines. Much of his career work modeled the classical style of Greece and Rome. Louis Sullivan, considered by many to be the greatest architect from the Chicago School, chastised Burnham for his lack of original expression and dependence on Classicism. He claimed it would "set back architecture fifty years" - corporate America thought differently.
Burnham may not have ever said the most famous quote attributed to him: "Make no little plans. They have no magic to strike man's blood and probably will themselves not be realized." The quote, however, captures Burnham's architectural essence.
A man of influence, Burnham held many postitions during his lifetime, including two-time president of the American Institute of Architects. In 1912, when he passed away in Heidelberg, Germany, D.H. Burnham and Co. was the world's largest architectural firm. Legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright eulogized, "(Burnham) made masterful use of the methods and men of his time...(as) an enthusiastic promoter of great construction enterprises...his powerful personality was supreme."
- Union Stock Yard Gate
- Kent House
- Rookery Building
- Monadnock Block
- Reliance Building
- Fisher Building
- Heyworth Building
- Chicago Landmarks: Daniel Burnham. (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2004, from Web site: http://www.ci.chi.il.us/Landmarks/Architects/Burnham.html
- Chicago Stories: Daniel Hudson Burnham. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2004, from Web site: http://www.wttw.com/chicagostories/burnham.html
- Jameson, D. (n.d.). Artists Represented: Daniel Hudson Burnham. Retrieved September 21, 2004, from Web site: http://www.architechgallery.com/arch_info/artists_pages/burnham_bio.html
- Today In History. (n.d.) Retrieved September 24, 2004, from Library of Congress Web site: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/sep04.html
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