Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Richard Nickel  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction Other

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1928 in Chicago, Il

-- Richard Nickel on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Richard was born and raised in the Humbolt Park area of Chicago, Il.

Biographical and Professional Information

During the urban regeneration of the 1960s and 1970s, scores of 19th century buildings in Chicago were being demolished. Among these were the works of Louis Sullivan and members of the Prairie School. By this time many of the buildings were neglected, with little public interest in their retention. Nickel encountered Sullivan's work while photographing the architect's buildings for a school project at the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago under Aaron Siskind. Studying and photographing Sullivan's buildings quickly became an obsession for him. Ultimately, he devoted much of his life to photographing them, hoping to produce a comprehensive photographic compendium.Nickel was killed on April 13, 1972, while attempting to obtain more items, when a portion of the Chicago Stock Exchange building collapsed on him. He is buried in Chicago's Graceland Cemetery, not very far from where Sullivan is buried. He was just 44 years old.In 2010 the archives of Richard Nickel were donated to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Architectural photographs by Richard Nickel

University of Illinois at Chicago Circle. 1973

Foreword by Joseph Jachna. Introduction by M. W. Newman. 14p. Measures 8.5x11 inches. Includes 12 black and white images of buildings by Louis Sullivan and others. Nickel (1928-2973) was a Polish American architectural photographer and historical preservationist. Based in Chicago, he is best known for his efforts to preserve and document the buildings of architect Louis Sullivan, and the work of the architecture firm of Adler & Sullivan.

They All Fall Down: Richard Nickel's Struggle to Save America's Architecture
ISBN: 0471144266

Wiley. 1994

"Richard Nickel, whom I had the delight of knowing during his all too brief life, is one of the unsung heroes of Chicago architecture. He was not an architect himself, nor a designer. He simply took pictures, but what pictures! He was, for want of a better description, one of the most sensitive of architectural photographers. More than that, his life—and ironically, tragically and poetically, his death—were fused to Chicago architecture. How he died tells us how he lived: for the beauty in the works of Sullivan, Wright and the others. His story is one that must be told."
Studs Terkel, author

"He was completely understanding of architecture and genius and of the quality of the work he was dealing with. He was single-minded in his pursuit and dedication to quality in history, art and architecture. That is an increasingly rare quality."
Ada Louise Huxtable, former New York Times architecture critic

"Richard was an excellent photographer—sensitive and intelligent, and a very good craftsman".
John Szarkowski, former Director, Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York

"Richard Nickel was one of those who saw architecture, and who passionately and skillfully pursued its portrayal. He was one of a very small number, and to make his work known would be a fundamental service to architects, students, and teachers as well as to the art of architecture."
Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., architectural historian

Richard Nickel's Chicago: Photographs of a Lost City
ISBN: 0978545028

CityFiles Press. 2008

Richard Nickel is an urban legend of sorts. He is remembered for his brave and lonely stand to protect Chicago's great architecture, and for his dramatic death in the rubble of the Stock Exchange Building. He is remembered, too, for the photographs he left behind. This is a book about one man's relationship with his city, a remarkably personal story told through compelling photographs. Richard Nickel's Chicago is for people who love the city, and for people all over the world who value city life.

The Complete Architecture of Adler & Sullivan
ISBN: 0966027329

Richard Nickel Committee. 2010

Louis Sullivan (1856–1924) was a giant of architecture, the father of architectural modernism, and one of the earliest builders of the skyscraper. Along with Dankmar Adler (1844–1900) he designed many of the buildings that defined nineteenth-century architecture not only in Chicago but in cities across America—and continue to be admired today. Among their iconic designs are the former Chicago Stock Exchange, Chicago’s Auditorium Building and Carson Pirie Scott flagship store, the Wainwright Building in St. Louis, and the Guaranty Building in Buffalo. This first-of-its-kind catalogue raisonné of the work of Adler and Sullivan—both as a team and individual architects—is a lavish celebration of the designs of these two seminal architects who paved the way for the modern skylines that continue to inspire city dwellers today.

The quest to pull together a complete catalogue of their work was first undertaken in 1952 by photographer Aaron Siskind and Richard Nickel, one of his graduate students at what is now the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. This intense, decades-long labor of love has resulted in an extensive and unique resource that includes a complete listing of all of the buildings and projects undertaken by Adler and Sullivan. Each listing contains historic photographs, architectural plans (when available), and a description of each project. Alongside over two and hundred fifty essays are eight hundred photographs of their buildings—many of which have since been demolished—including images by Nickel, Siskind, and other noted photographers.

This rich, incomparable reference will be treasured by readers interested in architecture, photography, and Chicago’s rich history as an architectural mecca.