Best Old Building - 2009
The Wainwright Building
Of all the great landmarks of St. Louis architecture (and there are many), none stands quite so high as the Wainwright Building. Designed by the great Louis Sullivan, one of the most important figures in the history of architectural design, the Wainwright Building was the first true skyscraper in the city of St. Louis and, many would argue, America. Completed in 1891 and built for a local brewer, the Wainwright embodied a radical departure from the multi-story buildings that preceded it. Sullivan chose to treat the edifice as a column, emphasizing its distinct elements, and the result was a unified aesthetic never before seen in such a tall — ten stories! — structure. With its swirling, vaguely Celtic cornices serving as a counterpoint to the rigid lines of its ascending floors, the Wainwright Building remains one of the most beautiful examples anywhere of the fusing of form with function.