(Sept. 4, 1846 – June 1, 1912)
Perhaps the most influential architect and urban planner in Chicago history, Burnham became a draftsman for famed architect William Le Baron Jenney, father of the modern skyscraper. In 1873 he persuaded friend and colleague John Root to form their own architectural firm, Burnham & Root, which became known for the 10-story Montauk Block – perhaps the first building to be labeled a “skyscraper” – the Rookery, the second Rand McNally Building, the Monadnock Building, and the Masonic Temple. He was director of works at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. He believed that an improved urban environment could provide a positive transformative experience for inhabitants. Burnham’s masterwork, the 1909 Plan of Chicago, is considered a landmark in urban planning history.
photo and text by Joe Collier