Wright’s precast housing system shines at new SC Johnson exhibit

Sources: SC Johnson, Racine, Wis.; CP staff

“Usonia: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Vision Of The American Home” opened May 3 at The SC Johnson Gallery: At Home with Frank Lloyd Wright, located on the consumer products giant’s headquarters campus.

The new exhibit extends a robust partnership the company, Frank Lloyd Wright and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation have had for 75-plus years, rooted in the architect’s mushroom-like, cast-in-place concrete “dendriform” columns at the SC Johnson Administration Building. Wright designed his first Usonian home during the Great Depression as a way to bring great architecture to every person, anchoring the concept with precast textile block units for exposed exterior and interior walls.

Through his Usonian period, he pioneered new and innovative ideas related to energy, space and material efficiency.  “Wright is one of the most celebrated architects in history who sought to design beautiful spaces that were affordable and complementary to their natural surroundings,” says Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, SC Johnson Gallery Co-Curator and Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives Director. “This exhibition offers insight into his pioneering efforts into sustainable architecture—a passion of his half a century before it became popular.”

The “Usonia: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Vision Of The American Home” exhibit opened a year after substantial completion of the Sharp Family Tourism and Education Center at Florida Southern College (Lakeland). The first official Usonian project in 50-plus years, the Sharp Center is 1,700 sq. ft. and contains around 2,000 units of precast textile blocks fabricated in North Brookfield, Mass., by craftsman Eugene Castonguay, subcontractor to Stone & Lime Imports Inc., contractor specializing in turnkey precast or stone fabrication and erection.  —  SC Johnson campus tours, 262/260-2154, [email protected]; www.scjohnson.com.