Communiversity Presents the Architecture of Daniel Burnham

Daniel Burnham built some of the first skyscrapers. He directed construction of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, which inspired the City Beautiful Movement, a philosophy of architecture and urban planning in the 1890s and 1900s that introduced beautification and monumental grandeur in cities. And he created urban plans for Washington, D.C., Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco and Manila before the idea of urban planning existed.

Writer, instructor and antiques expert Frank Farmer Loomis will present a University of Cincinnati Communiversity class on Burnham's legacy July 15 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for

Preservation Triumphs in the Queen City.

The lecture will give architecture fans a chance to examine Burnham’s style up close at one of Burnham’s buildings: the Marriott Renaissance Cincinnati Downtown Hotel. Lunch (not included in the classroom fee) will follow at the hotel’s restaurant, which is named in Burnham’s honor.

Here are a few highlights of Burnham's career.

  • Burnham and his business partner, John Wellborn Root, were the architects of the Masonic Temple Building in Chicago, one of the first American skyscrapers. The building was completed in 1892 and measured 21 stories or 302 feet tall, the tallest building of its time. It was torn down in 1939.
  • Burnham and Root were consulting architects at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. After Root’s death in 1891, Burnham oversaw and completed construction of almost 150 buildings on more than 600 acres. In less than two years, with the help of some of America’s pre-eminent architects and designers, Burnham developed what was called "America’s most spectacular world’s fair of the 19th century.” The fair played a key role in the development of the modern American city.
  • D.H. Burnham and Co. completed designs for more than 200 buildings, including some that are significant in American architectural history: the Flatiron Building in New York (1902), the Field Museum in Chicago (1920), Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia (1909) and Union Station in Washington, D.C. (1907).
  • Burnham’s interests in parks and city planning came to the forefront in 1901 when he became the chairman of the Senate Park Commission in Washington, D.C. His team’s plan for the nation’s capital was a revision of Pierre-Charles L’Enfant’s original plan from 1791 and included an extensive park system, a redesign of the National Mall area, and the construction of Union Station.

Burnham also designed four skyscrapers in Cincinnati between 1901 and 1905:

  1. The Bartlett Building, located at Fourth and Walnut streets, was built in 1901 for Union Savings Bank and is Cincinnati’s first skyscraper. The building was expanded in 1914, has 19 stories and stands 239 feet tall. It was the tallest building in Ohio for three years until the completion of the Fourth and Walnut Center. Since 2014, the Bartlett Building is the home of the Marriott Renaissance Cincinnati Downtown Hotel.
  2. The Tri-State Building at 432 Walnut St. was built in 1902 for streetcar operator Cincinnati Traction Co., has 15 stories and measures 215 feet in height.
  3. The Fourth National Bank Building at 18 E. Fourth St. was built in 1904. From 2003 to 2005, the building was renovated and converted into lofts, which sold between $200,000 to $380,000 each.
  4. The Clopay Building, now known as the Fourth & Walnut Center, at 105 E. Fourth St., was built in 1905. The name “Clopay” was a combination of the words “clothing” and “paper.”

Registration for the class is $59 (lunch not included). Register online or call 513-556-6932.

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