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John Wellborn Root was born in Lumpkin, Georgia on January 10, 1850. After a brief life as both a successful architect and writer, he died in Chicago Illinois on January 15, 1891. Root first went to school in Atlanta, Georgia, then near Liverpool in England at Clare Mount School. He graduated in 1869 from New York University where he was educated as a civil engineer. At Renwick & Sands, an architectural firm in New York, Root was apprenticed for a year, then worked for another New York based architectural firm, John Butler Snook, who was then building the vast Grand Central Station for Cornelius Vanderbilt (Zanten, "Root" 137). Following the disastrous fire of 1871, Root moved to Chicago in January 1872 to become a potential partner and head draughtsman with Peter Bonnett Wight who had formed a partnership with William H. Drake and Asher Carter. Soon after, Daniel Burnham entered Wight's office. "It was in Mr. Wight's office," records Mr. Burnham, "that I first became acquainted with John Wellborn Root, with whom I at once formed an acquaintance which lasted until the end of his life" (Moore, 17). Burnham and Root set up Burnham and Root in 1873, with Root as the designer and Burnham the businessman and organizer (Zanten, "Root" 137). Although Root was nearly four years younger than Burnham, he was better trained in his profession (Moore, 17). Starting as a widespread financial crisis, the economic depression of 1873 made it a tricky time to begin a practice, but advantageous connections, including Burnham's 1876 marriage to Margaret Sherman, the daughter of John B. Sherman, lead to a series of important domestic commissions for the firm, starting with a house for Sherman (Zanten, "Root" 137). "The alliance of Root & Burnham represented one of the first important confrontations of the older, more traditional, more fully rounded architectural craftsman with the newer architectural entrepreneur and business executive" (Hines, "Burnham of Chicago" 24).
Daniel Hudson Burnham was born on September 4, 1846 in Henderson, New York. He died in Heidelberg, Germany on June 1, 1912. Burnham was considered an American architect, urban planner and writer. Burnham, "the most active and successful architect, urban planner and organizer in the years around 1900", with his partner John Wellborn Root, shaped a series of unique and innovative early skyscrapers in Chicago during the 1880s (Zanten, "Burnham" 272). Under Burnham's direction, the large office staff and efficient organization became a prototype for all great modern architectural firms (Hines, "Burnham of Chicago" 24). Burnham's urban plans for cities such as Washington, DC, and Chicago played a vital role in the creation of epic city centres with a large emphasis on parks.
Burnham's reputable New England family moved to Chicago in 1854. His father's ambition for his son sent young Burnham for tutoring and to a preparatory school in Waltham, Massachusetts. He would fail the entrance examinations for both Harvard University and Yale University prior to returning to Chicago in 1867 where his father briefly got him a job in the office of William Le Baron Jenney, an engineer and architect. After two unrewarding years in the West trying his hand at silver speculation and gold prospecting, he worked for other Chicago based architects. In 1872 his father offered him to Peter Bonnett Wight of Carter, Drake & Wight (Zanten, "Burnham" 273). It was at Carter, Drake & Wight that Burnham met chief draughtsman Root. In 1873 they set up their own firm of Burnham and Root. Despite being so unlike in all their characteristics, the two men became firmly attached to one another (Moore, 17).
At first, the duo only received house commissions, the first being that in 1874 for John B. Sherman, the businessman and organizer of the Union Stock Yards. Many other residential commissions followed including the Edward Ayer House (1886) and Reginald DeKoven House (1890) (Glassman, 135). In their residential designs Burnham and Root were attracted to the Queen Anne idiom and to Romanesque Revival in their small public building (Glassman, 135). Burnham and Root followed loosely ideas by R. Norman Shaw, and H. H. Richardson (Hines, "Daniel" 353). Burnham and Root selectively "borrowed" from different eras and traditions but hardly let these other styles dominate their own developing synthesis (Hines, "Daniel" 353). Though their house designs never made adequate division from the past to signal any revolution in house design, Burnham and Root's smaller work, "in its inexorable trend toward greater simplicity, marked both the end of an older order and, in several late house!
s, a transition to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and his contemporaries" (Hines, "Daniel" 353).
Starting in 1880, Burnham and Root surfaced as the primary designers of the new ten-storey skyscraper office building. The practice obtained their first commission for a tal
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Mr. Burnham, Slaton, Root, John Wellborn Root, Hoffmann, Hines, Glassman, Robison, Moore, H. H. Richardson, Shepherd Brooks,
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Chicago, Burnham, United States,
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Monadnock Building, Rookery Building, Tribune Building, Calumet Building, Phoenix Building, Montauk Building,
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the Brooks brothers,
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