New SCJ Wright Exhibition: “Usonia”

Photos by Mark Hertzberg for SC Johnson, and used with permission

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     There are two well-known aspects to the SC Johnson company in Racine, Wisconsin: manufacturer of household products and stewards of the company’s Wright-designed Administration Building (1936) and Research Tower (1943/44). The company celebrates Wright’s influence on the American home in “At Home with Frank Lloyd Wright,” the permanent Wright exhibition in Fortaleza Hall (designed by Lord Norman Foster and Partners; opened in 2010) on the company campus.

      The first phase of the exhibition opened in June. It focused on Wright’s Prairie-style homes. The second iteration of the exhibition, “Usonia,” opens to the public May 3. It is being installed this week.

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While many people think that Wright designed homes only for wealthy clients, he was very interested in designing affordable housing. His Usonian homes were designed so that the client could help build them.

      The exhibition includes an “exploded” model of Jacobs 1 (1936), the Madison house widely considered to be Wright’s first Usonian home,  which the home owners helped build. The model, which is on loan from the Milwaukee Art Museum, was assembled Monday by workers who looked as if they were carefully positioning marionettes:

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      The exhibition also includes a masonry wall, in Wright’s signature Cherokee red brick, a board and batten panel built like the outside of Jacobs 1 (and other Usonian homes), and a photo mural that shows the view one might see from the living room of a Usonian home. These photographs were taken Monday. Installation continues until the exhibition opens:

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