Discovering Impactful 19th Century Architects


Influential 19th Century Architects

Notable architects of the 19th century, such as Eliel Gottlieb Saarinen, Louis Walter Gropius, Alvar Aalto, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Antoni Gaudi, Frank Lloyd Wright, and William N. Bowman, made significant contributions to architecture with their innovative designs in churches, skyscrapers, factories, houses, and public buildings.

Some notable figures include Eliel Gottlieb Saarinen, Louis Walter Gropius, Alvar Aalto, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Antoni Gaudi, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Eliel Gottlieb Saarinen’s diverse range of projects

Known for his unique blend of Art Nouveau and National Romanticism architectural styles during the nineteenth century, Eliel Gottlieb Saarinen designed many projects, such as churches like St. John’s Church in Helsinki and Finlandia Hall, which showcased his expertise with different materials, including wood and stone.

Louis Walter Gropius’ Fagus Factory design

Louis Walter Gropius, one of the founding fathers of modernist architecture, designed many iconic structures throughout Europe during this period.

His most famous work is arguably Fagus Factory, an early example that combined glass curtain walls with reinforced concrete structure – setting new standards for industrial building design at that time.

Alvar Aalto’s English houses and war memorials

Finnish architect Alvar Aalto demonstrated his versatility by designing residential homes in England and war memorials across Europe during this era.

One noteworthy project was Villa Mairea, a luxurious private residence in Finland that showcased Aalto’s signature organic and functionalist design principles.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s prominence in Scotland

Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a Scottish architect, is best known for his distinctive Art Nouveau style, which can be seen in the Glasgow School of Art, one of the most famous buildings from this period.

His work greatly influenced European architecture during the nineteenth century and inspires architects today.

Antoni Gaudi’s unique mark on Spanish architecture

Antoni Gaudi’s works demonstrate a unique approach to architectural design, blending elements from Gothic, Moorish, and Catalan Modernism styles.

His masterpiece, Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, remains an iconic symbol of Barcelona’s skyline even after more than 100 years since its construction began.

Frank Lloyd Wright became an American Icon.

American architect Frank Lloyd Wright pioneered “organic architecture” – integrating buildings with their natural surroundings.

Some notable examples include Fallingwater House, built over a waterfall in Pennsylvania, and New York City’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum featuring its iconic spiral ramp gallery space.

William N. Bowman was the Architect of the Yavapai County Courthouse

In March 1916, the City of Prescott awarded William N. Bowman, a Denver, Colorado architect, a contract to design the brand-new Yavapai County Courthouse at the plaza in downtown Prescott.

The cornerstone was laid in October 1916, and the courthouse was completed in September 1918. The white granite is striking, and the Neoclassical Revival design is a tribute to Bowman, a prolific architect in Denver, Colorado.

In the 19th century, architecture saw a surge of creativity, with renowned architects leaving their mark on history through iconic structures that remain today.


Technological advancements such as the combination of iron and glass have allowed for new construction possibilities, which Gustave Eiffel utilized to create commercial building designs.

Key Takeaway: Eliel Gottlieb Saarinen, Louis Walter Gropius, Alvar Aalto, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and Frank Lloyd Wright made a lasting impact on architecture in the 19th century through their pioneering designs. These iconic figures pushed boundaries by creating iconic structures like Fagus Factory and Basilica de la Sagrada Familia that continue to inspire today.

Technological Advancements in Construction

The 19th century witnessed significant advancements in construction technology, particularly with the innovative combination of iron and glass.

This revolutionary pairing led to the creation of stunning conservatories like the Crystal Palace, a prime example of early Victorian innovation that showcased the potential for new architectural designs.

The impact of iron-and-glass combinations on architecture

Iron-and-glass structures became increasingly popular during this period due to their ability to provide natural light and ventilation while maintaining structural integrity.

These materials allowed architects to create vast open spaces without obstructive support columns, resulting in an airy atmosphere perfect for public gatherings or exhibitions.

Joseph Paxton’s design for the Crystal Palace, an edifice crafted from iron and glass erected as a temporary structure for London’s Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, is one such example.

  • Markets: Iron-and-glass umbrellas were also used extensively throughout Europe during this time, providing sheltered marketplaces where vendors could sell their goods out of the elements.
  • Railway stations: Railway stations saw similar benefits from using iron and glass constructions, offering passengers protection from inclement weather while waiting for trains.
  • Bridges: Another notable application can be found within bridge design. Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge incorporates wrought-iron chains supporting its suspended roadway above Bristol’s Avon Gorge.

Gustave Eiffel’s Influence on Commercial Building Design

Gustave Eiffel, a French engineer and architect of the 19th century was notable for his contributions to architecture, such as cast-iron facades in commercial buildings like the Le Bon Marche department store in Paris.

Most famously, his iconic wrought iron lattice structure – the Eiffel Tower.

He designed several commercial buildings with cast-iron facades, such as the Le Bon Marche department store in Paris, which showcased his innovative use of materials and engineering techniques.

However, Eiffel’s most famous creation remains his tower, a wrought iron lattice structure that stands as an enduring symbol of French innovation.

In summary, technological advancements in construction during the 19th century profoundly impacted architecture by introducing new materials like iron and glass into structural designs.

The iconic Crystal Palace and Eiffel Tower, examples of the new materials’ application, still captivate architects today.

The 19th century saw a revolutionary transformation in construction technology, enabling skyscrapers and other modern buildings to emerge.

The Chicago School of Architects further developed these advances by introducing metal frames as a form of expression, allowing architects to design taller structures with improved safety features such as elevators.

Key Takeaway: The 19th century saw a revolution in construction technology, as architects combined iron and glass to create stunning structures such as the Crystal Palace. This period also marked Gustave Eiffel’s emergence on the scene, with his iconic tower symbolizing French innovation – inspiring generations of architects ever since.

Chicago School Architects and Metal Frames Expression

The 19th century marked a significant shift in architectural design, particularly with the emergence of the Chicago School architects.

This group of innovative designers sought better aesthetic expressions for metal frames, which became more popular as safe elevators removed prejudice against height.

In this section, we will explore some iconic examples from Chicago School architects and how their designs shaped the future of architecture.

Removing Prejudice Against Height Through Safe Elevators

Advances in lift engineering during the 1800s enabled architects to build higher towers without danger, paving the way for taller constructions that had formerly been considered too dangerous or impractical.

Introducing safe elevators allowed architects to experiment with more elevated structures that were once deemed too risky or impractical.

As a result, metal frame construction gained popularity due to its ability to support these towering buildings while maintaining structural integrity.


Iconic Examples From Chicago School Architects

  • Louis Sullivan’s Ryerson Building: One notable example is Louis Sullivan’s Ryerson Building (1884), which featured an intricate cast-iron facade that showcased decorative elements and functional components such as windows and doors. William Le Baron Jenney designed the building, creating other remarkable structures like the Auditorium Building (1889) and the Wainwright Building (1891).
  • Jenney’s Leiter Building II: Another influential structure from this era is Jenney’s Leiter Building II (1891). This six-story commercial building utilized steel framing techniques combined with masonry walls, making it one of the first large-scale applications of steel-frame construction in America.
  • Burnham & Root’s Monadnock Building: The Monadnock Building (1891), designed by Burnham & Root, is another prime example of Chicago School architecture. The Monadnock Building, a pioneering 16-story brick structure designed by Burnham & Root and the tallest of its kind, stands as an impressive example of engineering prowess.
  • Daniel Burnham’s Proposed Plan for Chicago: Lastly, Daniel Burnham’s proposed plan for Chicago (1909) aimed to reshape the city with grand boulevards, parks, and monumental buildings – reflecting his belief that beautiful urban environments could inspire civic pride and improve quality of life. Although not fully realized, this ambitious plan left an indelible mark on modern urban planning concepts.

The Chicago School architects and their use of metal frames helped break down the prejudice against height by introducing safe elevators and leaving iconic examples in their wake.

Moving on, we’ll explore how architectural theory has evolved through history with Vitruvius’s De Architectura and Leon Battista Alberti’s analysis of architectural history.

Key Takeaway: The 19th century saw a revolutionary shift in architectural design, spearheaded by the Chicago School architects. These innovators sought to aesthetically express metal frames which had become popular due to safe elevators, and create iconic structures such as Louis Sullivan’s Ryerson Building, Jenney’s Leiter Building II, Burnham & Root’s Monadnock Building and Daniel Burnham’s Proposed Plan for Chicago – all of which paved the way for modern urban planning concepts.

Architectural Theory Evolution Through History

Significant contributions from various architects and scholars have marked the evolution of architectural theory throughout history.

The foundation for modern architectural thought can be traced back to antiquity when Vitruvius wrote De Architectura, which laid out relevant principles today.

This ancient Roman treatise established the concept of firmitas, utilitas, and venustas – meaning firmness, commodity, and delight – as essential qualities in architecture.

Vitruvius’s De Architectura and its lasting influence

De Architectura served as a comprehensive guide on various aspects of architecture, such as building materials, construction techniques, urban planning principles, water supply systems, and acoustics in theatres, among others.

Vitruvius emphasized the importance of balancing aesthetics and functionality in design while also considering environmental factors like climate or local resources available for construction.

His work greatly influenced later generations, including renowned Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti who continued this legacy through his own writings.

Leon Battista Alberti’s Analysis of architectural history

Inspired by Vitruvius’ teachings, Alberti wrote On The Art Of Building In Ten Books (De Re Aedificatoria), where he analyzed masterpieces from ancient times before applying their arguments to contemporary problems without prioritizing any specific era or style over another.

Alberti’s treatise further developed the principles of proportion, symmetry, and perspective in architecture while incorporating concepts from other disciplines like mathematics or philosophy.

These foundational works by Vitruvius and Alberti laid the groundwork for future architects to build upon their ideas and develop new theories throughout history.

For example, during the Neoclassical period, architects drew inspiration from ancient Greek and Roman structures to create designs emphasizing order, harmony, and balance.


Similarly, in the 19th century, with innovations such as iron-and-glass construction techniques used in projects like Crystal Palace, the architectural theory evolved to incorporate these advancements into design practices.

As we continue exploring architectural history through various periods, including influential 19th-century architects like William Le Baron Jenney, who designed Chicago’s iconic Auditorium Building, or Henry Hobson Richardson, known for his work on Wainwright Building, it becomes clear how each era contributes unique insights that help shape our understanding of this complex field today.

The Vitruvian principles of De Architectura and Alberti’s analysis of architectural history are two essential components in understanding the evolution of architectural theory.

Conflicts between architectural philosophies have substantially influenced the formation of contemporary architecture, making it vital to comprehend the historical backdrop that led to these clashes.

Key Takeaway: Architectural theory has evolved throughout history, mainly due to the works of influential figures such as Vitruvius and Leon Battista Alberti. Their ideas have been adapted by architects in subsequent centuries, including 19th-century pioneers like William Le Baron Jenney and Henry Hobson Richardson, who contributed significantly to our understanding of this field today.

Conflicts Between Design Ideologies

The late 18th and early 19th centuries witnessed a slow but violent separation within architecture as design and execution conflicted.

This division led to architects retreating to grand projects and country homes, focusing on their individual visions rather than collaborating with others in the field.

The impact of these conflicts is still felt today, emphasizing the importance of understanding history when attempting to shape future practices within architecture.

Consequences of Conflicts between Design Ideologies

During this tumultuous period, several prominent architects emerged with distinct design ideologies that often clashed with one another.

For instance, William Le Baron Jenney, known for his pioneering work on metal-frame buildings like the Auditorium Building in Chicago, faced opposition from more traditional designers such as Henry Hobson Richardson, who favored Romanesque Revival styles exemplified by structures like the Wainwright Building in St. Louis.

This divergence in architectural philosophies resulted in contrasting building designs.

It hindered professional collaboration during an era of rapid technological advancements (e.g., iron-and-glass combinations used for constructing conservatories like London’s Crystal Palace).

Importance of Historical Context in Shaping Modern Architectural Practice

  • Past influences: By studying historical examples such as those mentioned above, contemporary architects can gain insights into how different approaches have positively and negatively shaped our built environment over time.
  • Mitigating conflict: Understanding past conflicts can help modern architects find common ground, fostering collaboration and innovation in the field.
  • Future growth: Learning from history allows architects to avoid repeating past mistakes while also building upon successful design principles that have stood the test of time.

In essence, recognizing and appreciating the historical context of architectural practice is crucial for professionals looking to create innovative, sustainable designs that contribute positively to our built environment.

By examining past conflicts between ideologies and understanding their consequences, architects can work together more effectively in shaping a better future for all.

Key Takeaway: This article explores the historical conflicts between design ideologies in late 18th and early 19th-century architecture, highlighting their lasting impacts on modern architectural practice. It emphasizes the importance of understanding past mistakes while building upon successful principles to create sustainable designs that will stand the test of time.


The 19th-century architects have left a lasting legacy in the city’s unique architecture.

From Gothic Revival to Neoclassical and Romanesque Revival styles, these master builders created aesthetically pleasing and historically significant structures.

Their contributions continue to shape the look and feel of Prescott today, making it an ideal destination for those looking for an authentic experience from this era.

With its stunning Victorian-style buildings scattered throughout town, visitors can readily appreciate why 19th-century architects were integral to creating what is now known as “Arizona’s Christmas City.”

Discover Prescott’s unique lifestyle by exploring the works of 19th-century architects who helped shape this charming city. Join us in celebrating their impact and uncovering hidden gems around every corner!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Teri Franks, the voice behind Prescott Voice. I've spent years immersing myself in all that Prescott has to offer, and I love sharing the unique stories and experiences I've discovered. When I'm not writing, you'll find me exploring Prescott's trails or tasting our local cuisine. I believe that the vibrant lifestyle here in Prescott inspires us to live a healthier, happier life. Come join me on this exciting journey as we explore Prescott together.

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