Daniel Hudson Burnham (September 4, 1846 - June 1, 1912) was one of the Chicago architects responsible for the earliest development of the American skyscraper. Until 1891 he was in partnership with John Wellborn Root (1850-1891). The two young architects met in 1872, when they were both draftsmen in the Chicago office of Carter, Drake, and Wright. The following year they formed their long successful partnership, Burnham the organizer of the office structure and working on site, Root the designer, until Root's death in 1891. Their most celebrated success, in a string of big corporate buildings was the landmark Monadnock Building in Chicago, which marks the beginning of steel-frame construction. After Root's death Burnham continued, often in temporary partnerships with other architect-designers.
Burnham was raised in Chicago. He got some early experience in a short stint as a draftsman in the office of William Le Baron Jenney, the so-called "father of the skyscraper."
Burnham served as the chief coordinating architect for the World Columbian Exposition, of 1893, laying out the gargantuan "White City's" classical architecture in a monumental and rational Beaux-Arts plan.
Burnham designed the Flatiron Building in New York (1902), and the fully Beaux-Arts Union Station (Washington, DC), the linchpin that made development of the monumental Mall possibly, by removing the Pennsylvania Railroad's right-of-way along it.
Burnham was also commissioned by the U.S. Philippine Commission in 1904 to make plans for the then Colonial cities of Baguio and Manila. The 1905 Plan of Manila was submitted to the Commission.
Daniel Burnham was the co-author of the Chicago Plan, which laid out plans for the future of Chicago in 1909. It was the first comprehensive plan for the controlled growth of an American city, an outgrowth of the "City Beautiful" movement. The plan included ambitious proposals for the lakefront and river and declared that every citizen should be within walking distance of a park. Requests for Burnham plans for other cities followed: for Cleveland, San Francisco, and the Mall at Washington, D.C..
Burnham may not have ever said the most famous quote associated with him, "Make no little plans. They have no magic to strike man's blood and probably will themselves not be realized." The quote, however, captures Burnham's architectural essence.
Burnham died on June 1, 1912 in Heidelberg, Germany.