[W]hat is the chief characteristic of the tall office building? And at once we answer, it is lofty. soaring thing, rising in sheer exultation that from bottom to top it is a unit without a single dissenting line.
—Louis Sullivan

Ah, that supreme, erotic, high adventure of the mind that was his ornament.
—Frank Lloyd Wright

Was ever a genre of art scorned as much as was architectural ornament during the heyday of modernism? Decorative carving, panels, and friezes became abominations: excrescences lathered over otherwise honest brick boxes, and all in the service of corrupt social display. To purge them was high moral duty. In his 1908 essay “Ornament and Crime,” Adolf Loos famously compared the ornament of a building to the tattoos of a criminal, thereby giving a lofty anthropological basis to what might otherwise be regarded as a matter...


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