Chicago Stock Exchange Frieze Panel
This frieze is from the Chicago Stock Exchange Building at 30 North LaSalle Street, which was the largest and most important office building designed by Adler & Sullivan, the architecture firm co-founded by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. The entrance to the building is similar to an entrance Adler & Sullivan designed for the Transportation Building at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair (World's Columbian Exposition).
In the Chicago Stock Exchange Building, the firm successfully integrated structure and ornament (i.e., architecture and design) in both the building’s interior and exterior. The wrought iron elevator doors and cast iron frieze and assembly surrounds were designed by Sullivan using an interlocking oval and line motif that he employed throughout the building—an original motif unique to the building. The designs, among his most successful and widely-recognized, utilize small elements composed of a combination of motifs that were enlarged and adapted for larger areas. While there is less ornamentation on the elevator enclosures for the upper stories compared with the first floor, the oval motif appears on the surrounding elements from top to bottom. Sullivan had a particular fascination with ovals as part of his philosophy that all ornament should be derived from nature and reflect nature’s underlying geometries. Sullivan associated the oval shape with “seed germs,” the embryo of the life force discussed in Inspiration, a prose poem written by Sullivan in 1886.
This would be the first major piece of metalwork designed by Sullivan to enter the museum’s collection. The frieze proposed for acquisition would add to the American design collection, update the museum’s significant ironwork collection, and contribute to the important conversation between architects and design objects.
 Robert C. Twombly, Louis Sullivan: His Life and Work (New York: Viking, 1986).
Cite this object as
Chicago Stock Exchange Frieze Panel; USA; copper-plated cast iron; 2016-29-1