Nickel Collection Gets New Home

Sullivan’s National Farmers Bank (1908).
Richard Nickel

The archived works of noted American photographer and preservationist Richard Nickel will soon have a new home at the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago, thanks to a donation from the nonprofit Richard Nickel Committee. Nickel is probably best known for documenting the architecture of Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler. A supremely dedicated preservationist, he died tragically in 1972 while attempting to salvage architectural elements from Sullivan’s doomed Stock Exchange building.

St. Louis' Wainwright Building by Sullivan.   Garrick-Schiller Building.   Archway detail at the Walker Warehouse.   Louis Sillivan's Auditorium Building.
[ Click to enlarge ] From Left: St. Louis’ Wainwright Building (1891), the Garrick-Schiller Building (1891-1961), an archway detail at Sullivan’s Walker Warehouse (1889), and his Auditorium Building in Chicago (1889).

According to Ward Miller, director of the Richard Nickel Committee, the first part of the collection, which mainly focuses on Adler and Sullivan, has already been moved to the Libraries. Materials pertaining to the work of other noted Chicago architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Burnham, Root, Holabird, Roche/Holabird & Root, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Bertrand Goldberg, C.F. Murphy, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, will be relocated in the coming months.

This donation of about 15,000 photographs, negatives, drawings, and documents was timed to coincide with the very long-awaited publication of The Complete Architecture of Adler & Sullivan, a photographic tome of over 800 images that was begun by Nickel and photography professor Aaron Siskind at the Illinois Institute of Technology in the early 1950s.

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