S. C. Johnson Research Tower (1944), Racine, Wisconsin


Utilizing principles of design and construction that he initially conceptualized in the 1920’s, the S. C. Johnson Research Tower was Wright’s first cantilevered high-rise structure. Designed in 1944 and constructed in 1947, the 14-floor tower is one of the tallest structures ever built where there is no visible support under the outer walls.

The walls are not supported from the outside, but by the cantilevered floors that extend from the central spine of the building. This spine also contains all the mechanical systems and the elevator. This design allows the tower to appear to hang, suspended in the air. The interior levels alternate round and square floor levels. Wright’s intention was to allow for easy communication between floors via the “open corners.” The architect used glass tubing instead of windows to allow for even, shadowless light and to prevent any view of outside distractions.

Together with the earlier S. C. Johnson Administration Building, it is considered one of his greatest designs. Both have been designated by the American Institute of Architects as among the seventeen buildings designed by Wright to be retained as an example of his architectural contribution to American culture.

 
Location: 1525 Howe Street, Racine, Wisconson 53403
Opened to the public in 2014. Photography of the interior is prohibited. Tours are based at the Golden Rondelle Theater; reservations are not required, but are recommended. Walk-in visitors are placed on tours based on availability.

Also see: Seventeen Buildings Honored by the American Institute of Architects


Sources:
William Allin Storrer, The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (1995), #238.
Thomas A. Heinz, Frank Lloyd Wright Field Guide (2005), p. 199.