Henry Hobson Richardson was regarded by his peers and by contemporary historians as one of the most innovative American architects of his day. Rather than drawing from the English or classical French models commonly used in the mid- to late-19th century, Richardson was inspired by the massive, round arched, and polychromatic Romanesque architecture of Southern France and Spain. While still relying on historic modes, the architecture that Richardson created out of these influences was unique to America and is referred to today as Richardsonian Romanesque.
The Marshall Fields Wholesale Store in Chicago is considered one of Richardson's most significant buildings. It combines heavy massing and repeated arcades of round arched windows typical of the Romanesque style with graduated horizontal subdivisions particular to the Italian Renaissance palazzo. The building influenced Louis Sullivan's design for Chicago's Auditorium Building and inspired generations of students learning their craft at MIT.