Frank Lloyd Wright Was Right: Lily Pads are Amazing Structures

Building and getting approval to build the SC Johnson complex was, well, complex. At one point, Wright had to prove the Wisconsin Industrial Commission was wrong - and in a way that would get the commission to reverse its denial of his designs so that the building process could go forward. 

In the famous sandbag demonstration, Wright had his crews pile more than 60 tons of sand on top of one of the "lily pad" columns to prove it could withstand the weight of the building's roof. (The columns needed to support just 12 tons.)

The columns - which are just 9" in diameter at the base - held up. The commission permitted building to go on. And the awesome structure has stood proudly, beautifully, and uniquely, since 1937. 


Re-Structuring the Work Environment

Long before Google re-envisioned work/office life, Frank Lloyd Wright had his own visions - visions that the Johnson family apparently fully embraced. 

  • An open common seating area juts out over the main floor, giving workers a natural spot to gather
  • The "Great Workroom" preceded the open-office environment and features many natural forms to bring the outdoors in
  • An artful use of glass tubes allowed natural light to flood the office space, creating an attractive interior for workers, and maintaining privacy inside the corporate building. 

The Little Building Co. model accurately depicts the building's intricate exterior architecture at a precise 1:500 scale

Modeling a Masterpiece: Build Something Beautiful

As intricate as Wright's designs are, Little Building Co. founder and artist Marcus Bree has carefully reproduced and accurately scaled them to provide an enjoyable, informative, and rewarding experience for model builders. 

The SC Johnson Wax Complex, our largest model, is recommended for model builders ages 15 and up. Younger modelers can certainly enjoy it and complete a beautiful model although some may need to take a little extra time, others may enjoy completing the project with another family member. 

Those new to the model building process may be surprised at how straightforward the directions are, and relatively uncomplicated the project is. Some of our model builders share tips here and here

Ready to get started? Order today


Experiencing the S.C. Johnson Wax Campus

Located in Racine, Wisconsin, the company campus was designated as a National Historic Landmark. 

Tours of the company campus are free and a variety of experiences are available, including several films, and individual as well as group tours. While you're in the area, check out Wingspread, the Wright-designed home of Herbert Johnson, in nearby Wind Point. 

Build a piece of architectural history: The SC Johnson Wax Complex model is now available!

GASP! You read the whole thing! To reward your dedication, use the code BLOG at checkout to receive 25% off all products. You deserve it!  

Photo from SC Johnson, and more recently published on the CNET site.