In 1991, the American Institute of Architects called him, quite simply, “the greatest American architect of all time.” Over his lifetime, Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) completed more than 500 architectural works; many of them are considered masterpieces. Thanks to the wide dissemination of his designs and his many years spent teaching at the school he founded, few architects in history can claim to have inspired more young people into joining the architecture profession.
This article was originally published on September 8,2014. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.
The next time you catch the scent of a Glade air freshener or evade pesky mosquitoes thanks to Off!, think of Frank Lloyd Wright. His 1950 building for the SC Johnson Research Tower at their headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin, was home to the invention of many of their landmark products.
From the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Administration Building and 15-story Research Tower, to the Norman Foster-designed Fortaleza Hall, SC Johnson’s global headquarters is rich in design and history. The company’s gallery, At Home with Frank Lloyd Wright, houses an exhibit featuring lithographic plates from the Wasmuth Portfolio, a collection that has been hailed as one of the most important publications of the early modern architecture movement and established Wright as the international icon he is today.
The gallery features 43 of the Portfolio’s 100 framed lithographs as well as artifacts of Wright’s most famous work, revealing plans and perspectives of the buildings in natural landscapes. Wright’s experiences and personal struggles leading up to, and throughout, the creation of the Portfolio were the backdrop for some of his history-altering work like the SC Johnson headquarters’ Administration Building and Research Tower.
Partially credited to the spotlight cast by MoMA’s "Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal" exhibition, SC Johnson (SCJ) has agreed to restore their 15-story Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Research Tower as a museum and corporate office in Racine, Wisconsin. Wright’s only constructed taproot-core, the 1950s tower is “an inspiring example of cantilever construction with an inner core extending 50 feet into the ground that provides support for the 16 million pound structure,” described SCJ. “The taproot core bears a strong resemblance to the lily pad-like columns seen throughout SC Johnson’s Administration Building, another Wright-designed facility.”