Johnson Wax Building
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Architect Frank Lloyd Wright
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Location Racine, Wisconsin   map
Date 1936 to 1939 and 1944   timeline
Building Type corporate offices and research laboratory
 Construction System precast concrete and brick
Climate temperate
Context suburban
Style Modern
Notes S.237 and S.238. S. C. Johnson and Son Administration Building (1936, additions 1951) and Johnson Research Tower (1944). Unique structural expression in open hall, tower with rounded corners.


Photo, exterior overview

Photo, interior, main room with lily-pad columns, looking across

Photo, interior, main room with lily-pad columns, looking up


Detail Drawing



Plan Drawing

Section Drawing

Section Drawing

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Discussion Johnson Wax Building Commentary

"Both the Administration Building (also called the Johnson Wax Building) and the later Research Tower...are of brick and glass. The main office work space is articulated by dendriform columns capable of supporting six times the weight imposed upon them, a fact Wright had to demonstrate in order to obtain a building permit. The glass is not in panes, but in tubing, and several layers of different sizes are used to admit light but no view....Wright designed all the original furniture for the building, including the three-legged secretary chairs, which tip over if one does not sit with correct posture. The tower is totally enclosed and does not allow for horizontal expansion of work space."

— William Allin Storrer. The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: A Complete Catalog. project 237.

The Creator's Words

"What is architecture anyway? Is it the vast collection of the various buildings which have been built to please the varying taste of the various lords of mankind? I think not. No, I know that architecture is life; or at least it is life itself taking form and therefore it is the truest record of life as it was lived in the world yesterday, as it is lived today or ever will be lived. So architecture I know to be a Great Spirit....Architecture is that great living creative spirit which from generation to generation, from age to age, proceeds, persists, creates, according to the nature of man, and his circumstances as they change. That is really architecture."

— Frank Lloyd Wright. from Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer and Gerald Nordland, ed. Frank Lloyd Wright: In the Realm of Ideas. p7.

"There in the Johnson Building you catch no sense of enclosure whatever at any angle, top or sides....Interior space comes free, you are not aware of any boxing in at all. Restricted space simply is not there. Right there where you've always experienced this interior constriction you take a look at the sky!"

—Frank Lloyd Wright. from Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer and Gerald Nordland, ed. Frank Lloyd Wright: In the Realm of Ideas. p15.


1525 Howe Street
Racine, Wisconsin 53403

American Institute of Architects 25 Year Award, 1974

Sources on Johnson Wax Building

Werner Blaser and Monica Stucky. Drawings of Great Buildings. Boston: Birkhauser Verlag, 1983. ISBN 3-7643-1522-9. LC 83-15831. NA2706.U6D72 1983. plan and section drawings, p158.

Edward R. Ford. The Details of Modern Architecture. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1990. ISBN 0-262-06121-X. LC 89-31772. NA2840.F67 1989. drawing of wall section detail, p344. Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation drawing 3601.10. [MW]   Highly recommended for serious observers, and available at

Johnson Architectural Images. Copyrighted slides in the Artifice Collection.

Udo Kulterman. Architecture in the 20th Century. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993. ISBN 0-442-00942-9. LC 92-26734. NA680.K7913 1993. discussion p76.

John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. London: Mitchell Beazley Publishers, 1975. corridor interior photo showing glass tube daylighting, p254. Reprint edition: Da Capo Press, April 1991. ISBN 0-3068-0436-0. — An accessible, inspiring and informative overview of world architecture, with lots of full-color cutaway drawings, and clear explanations. Available at

William S. Saunders. Modern Architecture—Photographs by Ezra Stoller. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3816-2. exterior photo, p36-37. — A wonderful & inspiring book of beautiful photographs by the master of architectural photography. Available at

Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer and Gerald Nordland, ed. Frank Lloyd Wright: In the Realm of Ideas. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-8-93-1421-5. LC 87-20755. NA737.W7A4 1988. p7. interior color photo of big room, p14.

William Allin Storrer. The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: a Complete Catalog. Second Edition. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1979. ISBN 0-262-19171-7. LC 78-1306. NA737.W7A4 1978. project 237. geographical index p6.

William Allin Storrer. The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1993. ISBN 0-226-77624-7. LC 93-30127. NA737.W7A4 1993. plan drawing.   Available at

Marcus Whiffen and Frederick Koeper. American Architecture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984. exterior photo, f267, p333. interior photo, f268, p333.   An excellent survey of American architecture. Reprint Edition available at

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Johnson Wax Building


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