John Szarkowski was born in Ashland, Wisconsin in 1925. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1948 and worked at the Walker Art Center for three years before moving to Buffalo to teach at the Albright Art School. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to study and photograph the architecture of Louis Sullivan. The project resulted in a book, the Idea of Louis Sullivan (The University of Minnesota Press, 1956) of which this photograph is included.