Johnson Building Overview (02:43)
The Federal Technical Commission was skeptical about Frank Lloyd Wright's tapered concrete columns in 1937. View footage of weight bearing tests proving their structural integrity. (Credits)
Johnson Building Reception (01:19)
In 1938, a Time journalist compared the interior to a woman swimming naked in a river. Wright considered it a technical success.
Johnson Family History (00:56)
The company has made household products since 1886. In 1935, Hib Johnson contracted Wright to modernize its image with new offices.
Johnson Building Project (01:28)
In the 1930s, Wright's career slowed. Johnson's commission enabled him to design a future city; he reluctantly agreed to build it in the factory town.
Johnson Building Location (01:11)
Wright made a fortress to fit its industrial environment. He preferred horizontal designs to sky scrapers.
Johnson Building Entrance (01:39)
Wright wanted the entire building to symbolize the Johnson Company. There is no facade; the sole access point is through the garage.
Great Workroom (01:49)
The Johnson Building uses an open plan, sealed from the outside environment. Managers overlook staff from a mezzanine and employees have no windows.
Johnson Building Lighting (00:58)
Wright's glass ceiling and independent lateral walls allow natural light into the work space.
"Mushroom" Columns (03:25)
Wright used pillars to create a ceiling and roof, but electricity replaced natural light. He used steel mesh to reinforce the concrete, and referred to his design as "organic" architecture.
Johnson Building Construction Process (01:15)
Wright changed details frequently, making life hard for engineers. Hear his thoughts on working with Johnson. The project cost four times the estimate.
Johnson Building Decoration (01:57)
Inspired by the chemical industry, Wright used Pyrex tubes for partitions. He also designed the furniture.
Management Level (02:14)
Johnson had Wright build an auditorium and cafeteria for employees. The "bird cage" elevator and private balcony was for Johnson executives.
Johnson Building Inauguration (00:58)
Completed in 1938, many praised the project for its streamlined design that embodied modernity.
Research Tower (02:44)
Johnson contracted Wright to build an addition. Inspired by Japan, Wright designed a tower of cantilevered floors with a brick and Pyrex facade; it links to the main office.
Johnson Company Symbol (01:28)
Despite being shut in 1980, the tower became associated with the brand. View footage of a 1956 employee Christmas celebration.
Johnson Building Legacy (00:53)
The project renewed Wright's career until his death in 1959. Johnson built the company into a multinational corporation.
Credits: The Johnson Building: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture (00:59)
Credits: The Johnson Building: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture
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