The History of World Expositions

The Chicago World Exposition 1893
The architect of the Fair: Daniel Hudson Burnham

Year: 1893
City: Chicago
Country: USA
Duration: 1st May - 30th October 1893

Copyright: Unsere Weltausstellung 1893

Daniel H. Burnham was born in Henderson in 1846. Burnham, whose school career was marked by failure and whose plans to study were thwarted because he did not pass the entrance examinations for Yale and Harvard, first tried working as a merchant in Chicago. His wish to become an architect soon induced him to work for William Le Baron Jenney whose office basically counted as the training shop for architects in Chicago at the time. After a while he discontinued his apprenticeship, however, in order to take part in a gold digging expedition to the Wild West, but this was not crowned by success. Back in Chicago he opened his own architectural firm together with a partner but had to give this up again after the fire of Chicago in 1871 which destroyed almost the whole city. Only after 1873 did Burnham's eventful but unsuccessful life change when he entered into partnership with John Wellborn Root, an architect and engineer. Burnham's skills in organisation and selling interacted extremely well with Root's artistic and technical talents, making Burnham & Root one of the most successful architectural firms in Chicago. They went on to develop major predecessors of 20th century skyscrapers.

The Rookery Building, for which Root expanded the concept of steel skeleton construction, was particularly famous. Its 11 floors were built on a square ground-plan around a courtyard which was roofed over by an iron/glass vault construction at the height of the second floor. This new ground-plan organisation which provided a spacious , naturally illuminated entrance hall was attractive to businesses for representative purposes. It also provided good lighting for the upper floors. The success of skyscraper designs resulted in Burnham & Root being commissioned to plan the World's Fair of 1893. Root died in 1891 and his position was taken over by Dwight Perkins. But instead of continuing Root's technically and aesthetically innovative approaches in planning the Fair, Perkins like Charles B. Atwood, the designer in chief of the Fair catered to traditional public taste with a Classic-revival repertoire that was imported from France and for which he was severely criticised by, above all, Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan. For buildings that were erected with Perkins and Graham later such as the Reliance and Fisher Buildings and the Railway Exchange Burnham drew upon the principles of the Chicago School more strongly again by letting the facade design reflect the construction of the buildings. In the last two decades Burnham turned to city planning and designed influential master plans for Washington and Philadelphia. His Plan for Chicago, which was completed in 1909 three years prior to his death, was used for many years as the basis for city planning in Chicago.

EXPOSEEUM - The Museum of World Exhibitions, Hanover, Expo Plaza 11
Open every Sunday from 11 to 16