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Adler and Sullivan's Guaranty Building in Buffalo

Joseph Siry
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
Vol. 55, No. 1 (Mar., 1996), pp. 6-37
DOI: 10.2307/991053
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/991053
Page Count: 32
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Adler and Sullivan's Guaranty Building in Buffalo
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Abstract

As the last of Adler and Sullivan's tall steel office buildings, the Guaranty responds in form and ornament not only to Sullivan's aesthetic program, but also to functional and constructive demands of the type articulated by Adler and others, and to an urban context of monumental architecture in Buffalo's civic center. The Guaranty's spatial and structural planning were based on a unit system of design, which also underlay the proportions of its street elevations and fenestration. The Guaranty was related to Adler and Sullivan's earlier Wainwright Building, whose fronts may reflect concern for conveying structural stability in light of concurrent debates on high buildings. Use of terra-cotta rather than brick in buildings like the Guaranty was prompted in part by labor conditions. The accentuated verticality of the elevations, which exemplifies ideas expressed in Sullivan's essay "The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered," also recalls the theory of Hippolyte Taine (1828-1893), professor of aesthetics and history of art at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, whose ideas Sullivan had studied.

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