Statement of Significance (as of designation - January 7, 1976):
Frank Lloyd Wright's Depression-era design for the Johnson Wax Company's Administration Building and Research Tower was so radical that local building commissioners refused to approve it without a test. At issue were Wright's novel "mushroom" columns, intended to carry loads varying from 2 to 12 tons. When a sample was built and withstood a load of 60 tons, the permit was granted. One of three notable commissions executed by the architect during the Depression, these structures employ a highly original system of cantilever-slab construction in a classic of modern office design. Frank Lloyd Wright's imaginative approach to structure is seen in his use of rounded "organic" forms, and in the T-shaped columns and "tree-like" tower. The complex, which opened in 1939, continues to serve its original functions, and still contains original furnishings that Wright designed. Widely published, it was recognized for its importance even before it was completed, and helped the architect to gain a number of commissions.