Four views of Twenty Something Sullivan a 3D printed book of ornament by architect Louis H. Sullivan.

Twenty Something Sullivan is a 3D printed architectural reference book featuring nine ornaments by architect Louis H. Sullivan. Produced between 1881 and 1885 these pieces of Chicago’s architectural history represent a period when Sullivan was finding his feet and exploring new ground as a young man in architecture. Working with his partner Dankmar Adler, Louis H. Sullivan designed these decorative ornaments to give the building they created a “natural” energy. Commissioned by leaders from Chicago’s growing mercantile class Sullivan’s pieces for Martin Barbe, Reuben Rubel, S.A. Maxwell and Rosenfeld families represent an important step in the development of his signature style.

Twenty Something Sullivan has been released into the public domain and is available for download from Thingiverse.com where links to the original scans and other source material for the book can be found. An average page takes about 25 – 30 hours to print on a large format desktop 3D printer, but they can be scaled down to print at a smaller size such as this example by Josh Ajima. Each page features both a relief print and a negative impression so that readers can use their favorite malleable material to make a copy of the piece in question. Twenty Something Sullivan is a 3D printed circular book, each page rotating around a central spine or column using print in place bearings to articulate there movement.


Detail of terra cotta panel from Rueben Rubel House

Sullivan’s ornaments we scanned at high resolution using both the Next Engine and Artec Eva 3D scanners and cleaned up for 3D printing using Netfabb and Meshmixer. The book was designed in Rhino and uses Tony Buser‘s connector pin and works from pp3pd’s print in place bearing. Each page is captioned with material, building name, location and dates of production and destruction. These captions have been translated into Braille by Sean Tikkun using openSCAD to make this information accessible to a wider community. The title page includes a short text written by Tim Samuelson that talks about the significance of these ornaments to Sullivan’s work and there importance to Chicago’s architectural history.

Louis H. Sullivan

Louis H. Sullivan

Twenty Something Sullivan is designed and produced by Tom Burtonwood and Tim Samuelson. Holly Holmes printed / prints many of the pieces and Sean Tikkun translated the text captions into Braille. The Artec and Next Engine 3D scanners used to produce the book were borrowed from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where Burtonwood is an Assistant Professor in Contemporary Practices and Sculpture.