Frank Lloyd Wright’s Johnson Wax Building

Interior of Johnson Wax office building

Interior of Johnson Wax office building

Around 2001 I visited the Johnson Wax headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and, if it isn’t obvious by this photograph, the natural lighting in the space is amazing. Completed in 1939, the building structure is formed by mushroom columns, a design which Wright had to prove to the building inspector was strong enough to support the roof by loading one with sandbags to demonstrate that it far surpassed the required structural loading.  The building’s original skylights, made of pyrex glass tubes, leaked, and were eventually roofed over with corrugated plastic to stop the water infiltration. Wright was charged by his client, Herbert Johnson, to create an inspiring workplace for his employees, and Wright delivered a great space, which is now a National Historic Landmark.

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