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we can believe a medieval master architect would have designed it if he lived to-day, the group is one of the most permanently and conspicuously fine architectural achievements to be seen in this country.
toward an "ultimate" style. Sullivan's emancipation was complete, his originality embracing the detail as well as the major elements of the design of his buildings. The building for the
People's Savings and Loan Association is typical, not only totally unlike the conventional idea of a bank, but unlike the conventional idea of any other type of building. Of plain squareness, devoid of any cornice, its ornamental details were characterized by intricate leaf arrangements, partly conventionalized, partly formal, and in no way suggesting, for instance, the classic manner of leaf treatment familiar in the Greek acanthus.
For monumental buildings of more generally horizontal mass than the sky-scrapers other architectural expressions than the Gothic are not only available, but more pleasing and suitable. Classic precedent and the whole architecture of Renaissance Italy afford ample material for adaptation. For the tall buildings, however, classic precedent holds no affinity in form or feeling, and Renaissance architecture, depending largely for its effect upon fine and subtle niceties of scale, becomes almost invisible when it is raised thirty or forty stories into the sky. The cornice, which is part and parcel of Renaissance design, means almost nothing when it is too far aloft to be more than a cap to the building. For some years architectural thought in the Middle West has addressed itself diligently to discovering some form or forms of architectural expression which would owe nothing to precedent, which would solve both old and new problems in new ways.
The pioneer of the new school was Louis H. Sullivan, in Chicago, who made such brilliant departures from all known architectural precedent that he inspired many young architects who have since created a variety of work that is intensely interesting, regardless of its larger significance as a step
Elsewhere I have called Louis Sullivan and his followers "The American Secessionists," after the Vienese Secessionists, whose artistic and architectural convictions and ambitions were of the same color. I should be very unwilling to deny the existence of some real significance in the radical beliefs of this Mid-Western group, but I should be very unwise if I attempted to say exactly what that significance may some day be. Following honest instinct, not timid conservatism, I should still feel inclined to doubt even the ultimate authoritativeness of the Secessionist kind of design. Much of it is not soundly reasoned, and consequently lacks the authority that is one of the greatest attributes of architecture. Moreover, it largely fails to convince on the very point for which it strives, the point of expressiveness. What fiat will tell us that