travel: Mr. Wright and his leaking houses

I am a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright, one of America’s most famous architects. He was a visionary who designed homes and buildings, in the first half of the 20th century, that still today can be described as ‘modern’. I adore his prairie style, his way of reflecting the natural surroundings inside the house.

But Mr. Wright was also a stubborn man. And so the story repeated itself, but this time in a different house, the home of Mr. Johnson. The roof was leaking! The Johnson family was very happy with their new home ‘the Wingspread’ in the shape of an airplane propeller, with 4 screws and a ridge as lookout. But when it rained, the staff and family ran around with buckets to stop the rain for destroying the interior, also designed by Wright. Two years later, and a lot of ‘stop the leaking’-actions further, Mr. Johnson invited the prominent men of Wisconsin to a dinner party at his home. During dinner it started to rain. A raindrop fell right on the bald head of Mr. Johnson, who sat at the head of the table. The guests looked in silence to Mr. Johnson. Then Mr. Johnson asked his maid for the phone and called the operator whom connected him through to Mr. Wright. And the conversation went like this: “Mister Wright, we have a problem, I am having dinner with the most prominent men of Wisconsin and a raindrop just fell on my head.” Wright replied “Mister Johnson, then you just have to move your chair.”

SC Johnson-the company of whom their products can be found in every American household (think about Pledge wax, Ziploc bags, Shout detergent, Baygon mosquito repellent, Kiwi shoe polish, etc.)- has its headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin, 80 miles north of Chicago. The administrative building, the research center and the private home are designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, including their interior. SC Johnson organizes free architecture tours all year round. Unfortunately you’re not allowed to take pictures inside the research center and the administrative building but I can assure you that it’s breathtaking. Thanks to Chicago’s Architecture Biennial there are now also free daytrips from Chicago to Racine.

Architectural happINEss!


(as English is not my native language, some weird translations may have popped up. Feel free to let me know. Also none of the above businesses have invited me to write for them, nor have I received any compensation from them.)


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