view all images ( of 21 shown)

Male, born 1846-09-04, died 1912-06-01

Associated with the firms network

Burnham and Root, Architects; Burnham, Daniel H., and Company, Architects

Professional History


Draftsman, William LeBaron Jenney, Architect/Engineer, Chicago, IL, 1867-1868.

Silver speculator (Comstock Lode era), Nevada, 1868-1870.

Burnham worked in several small architectural offices in Chicago, 1870-1872.

Draftsman, Carter, Drake and Wright, Architects, Chicago, IL, 1872-1873.

Partner, Burnham and Root, Architects, Chicago, IL, 1873-1891.

Chief of Construction, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, IL, 1890-1893.

Principal, D.H. Burnham and Company, Chicago, IL, 1891-1912.


High School/College

He attended the New Church School, Waltham, MA.

Burnham received private tutoring with Tilly Brown Hayward, prior to 1867.

Burnham did not gain admission to either Harvard University or Yale University.



Daniel Burnham was born in Henderson, NY, in 1846.

Biographical Notes

D.H. Burnham took a leading role in the planning and construction of the wildly popular and influential 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. As a writer for the Art Institute of Chicago stated: "The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago is recognized today as one of the defining moments of American cultural history. The defining style of the Exposition, a modern interpretation of classical Greek and Roman forms, was an outgrowth of the influential Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, one of the few sources of formal architectural education in the 19th century. The Beaux-Arts, or 'City Beautiful,' style proved to be...long-lasting... and through the work of prominent architects such as Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett in Chicago it became especially popular in the design of major civic buildings and in the master planning of urban centers in the United States and abroad." (See Art Institute of Chicago, "Burnham, Beaux-Arts, Plan of Chicago, & Fairs," accessed 07/12/2016.)

Burnham was one of the first building professionals appointed to supervise the building process. On 09/01/1890, Abraham Gottlieb (1837-1894) was made the Columbian Exposition's Consulting Engineer, a role he held until 08/10/1891, when he resigned and was replaced by Burnham's employee Edward Clapp Shankland (1854-1924). On 09/01/1890, as well, fair organizers appointed the illustrious Frederick Law Olmsted and Company as Consulting Landscape Architects. Burhanm and Root were appointed Consulting Architects on 09/04/1890. Two months later, on 11/08/1890, D.H. Burnham was made the exposition's Chief of Construction, the fair's most powerful supervisory position; his business partner John W. Root was made Consulting Architect in 12/1890, although he served for only a month and a half, dying on 01/15/1891. Burnham took up his title as Consulting Architect thereafter.

Burnham first collaborated with Shankland, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., (1822-1903) and planner Charles B. Atwood (1849–1895) on the layout of the 680-acre fair site. Once its overall site plan had been decided, the positions of individual buildings were made. Once the building locations were set, Burnham presided over an august Architectural Advisory Board composed of an elite selection of architectural firms.The board included: Richard Morris Hunt of New York, McKim, Mead and White of New York, George B. Post of New York, Peabody and Stearns of Boston, Van Brunt and Howe of Kansas City, Burling and Whitehouse of Chicago, Adler and Sullivan of Chicago, Solomon S. Beman of Chicago, William LeBaron Jenney of Chicago, and Henry Ives Cobb of Chicago. The board met on 01/10/1891 and divided up the buildings to be constructed for the fair, with the leading East Coast firms obtaining the highest profile commissions.

The success of the Columbian Exposition solidified his reputation as an architect and city planner of the highest order in the US. He became one of the leading advocated of Beaux-Arts-influenced "City Beautiful" planning precepts: the use of ceremonial axial boulevards and streets, hierarchical organization of grandiose classical buildings, incorporation of water features, creation of ceremonial public squares and parks, extensive use of formal gardens and parterres, and the adoption of fountains, statues and buildings as visual terminus points. Toward the end of his career, Burnham developed City Beautiful plans for the cities of Chicago, IL, Washington, DC, Cleveland, OH, Manila, Philippines and San Francisco, CA. His involvement in San Francisco began in the early 1900s and continued for much of the decade, resulting in the grand San Francisco City Plan, but also commissions for several prominent buildings, most notably the Merchants Exchange Building (1904).

Associated Locations

  • Henderson, NY (Architect's Birth)
    Henderson, NY

    OpenStreetMap (new tab)
    Google Map (new tab)
    click to view google map

  • Heidelburg, Germany (Architect's Death)
    Heidelburg, Germany

    OpenStreetMap (new tab)
    Google Map (new tab)
    click to view google map

PCAD id: 462