Johnson Wax Building

Primary Creator
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright
Area28600 square feet
Era1900 - 1950
Height1560 inches
Length2640 inches
Volume800000 cubic feet
Width1560 inches
Name of WorkJohnson Wax Building
Production Date1939
Production Location

Current Location

Media Typesbrick, glass tubes, reinforced concrete
General Notes

Known as the Office building and Research Tower for S.C. Johnson Wax & Son Co.
The style is Modern, complex, geometric, integrated, romantic architecture, that is to say -- Organic architecture.


A low slung brick structure consisting of brick bearing walls and tapered concrete columns that are "mushroom-like", in that they taper upward slightly and then fan out to an enormous capitals - the mushroom cap.  These columns are used all throughout the structure especially in the great space of the building -- the main offices, which are formed from dozens of these slender columns that fan out at the top and create a "forest" of concrete columns.  While the use of materials, especially the glass tubes for glazing throughout the building, is special (and had substantial practical problems), and is integral to the tour-de-force that this design represents in the history of architecture -- the central cause of this building's greatness is the space of the main administrative offices.


To Work should be a condition of grandeur and joy.

Emotional Sum or Sense-of-life

Day to day life can be exalted and pleasurable.

Context Information

The complex consists of three main components, the Administration building, the Research Tower, and the parking structure. 
Together the Admin and garage form a long low slung structure taking up most of the several acre site.  This horizontality is strongly challenged by the tower rising out of the middle of the complex, forming a dynamic composition. 
The use of the curved glass throughout was intended to "break the box" as Wright so frequently wanted to, since these soft curved glass structures result in no sharp building edges where the walls meet the roofs.  The complex forms an enveloping environment, since you drive to the building and are swallowed up by it and then are entirely controlled by the inner spaces.  That is, after entering, there are virtually no views of the outer world, and everything you see is what Wright designed and wants you to see. 
It is the epitome of architecture as creating a new reality, an ideal reality, that you live in.


Midwestern American architecture, organic architecture