Use the smaller-sized text Use the larger-sized text Use the very large text

Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

View Summary/Photo Page


General view of complex

Interior, Administration Building

General view

1525 Howe Street, Racine, Racine County
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright, Wesley W. Peters
Date of Construction: 1936-39; 1947

In 1936 Frank Lloyd Wright's innovative design for S.C. Johnson's international headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin rekindled his flagging career and cemented his position as America's leading architect. Using an original system of cantilever-slab construction, Wright along with son-in-law engineer, Wesley W. Peters, constructed the S.C. Johnson Administrative building out of brick and glass using the circle shape as the unifying element.

Completed in 1939, the S.C. Johnson Administrative building is lit by skylights and two wide bands of translucent tubing, encircling it just below the roofline and a few feet above eye level. The main office area is a single large room. The roof of this open plan space is supported by Wright┐s famous "lily pad" columns standing 22 feet high on 9 inch diameter bases.

In 1947 Wright designed a companion 14-story research tower. This building was the first to be constructed using no visible support under the outer walls. The floors are of alternating round and square concrete slabs jutting out from a hollow central core containing an elevator, stairway and utility infrastructure. The outer glass shell is hung from every other floor slab. This shell, like that of the original administration building, is formed of glass tubes laid up like exterior brickwork. Wright connected the administration building to the research tower with a bridge enclosed entirely with glass tubing and plate glass. The S.C. Johnson Administration building and Research Tower is still owned and occupied by Johnson Wax, Inc.

The administration building is open for tours by reservation only.


select text size Use the smaller-sized textUse the larger-sized textUse the very large text