Fortaleza Hall and The Commons, SC Johnson

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Fortaleza Hall and The Commons, SC Johnson
In 1935 H.F. Johnson Jr. – chairman of SC Johnson – embarked on a remarkable 15,000-mile flight to Brazil in a twin-engine S-38 amphibious plane, called Carnaúba, in search of a sustainable source of natural wax: the carnaúba palm tree. Sixty-three years later, Sam Johnson retraced that flight in a replica of the Carnaúba to complete a historic family journey. Located on the SC Johnson global headquarters in Wisconsin, the project creates two companion buildings: Fortaleza Hall, which provides a permanent home for the replica Carnaúba and conveys the extraordinary story of H.F. Johnson Jr.’s flight; and The Commons, which gives the campus a new social heart. An initial masterplanning study of the campus revealed the ideal development site, adjacent to Frank Lloyd Wright’s celebrated Administration Building and Research Tower. The new buildings anchor an area conceived as a ‘town square’, The Commons being close in spirit to a collegiate commons. Fortaleza Hall is a contemporary companion to Wright’s buildings. Fortaleza Hall is completely transparent, with an oval form designed to give a 360 degree view of the Carnaúba. Visitors are able to view the aircraft suspended in mid-air, as if in flight. In the attached Legacy Gallery are photographs of the original plane and artefacts from the two expeditions. The Commons accommodates a wide range of employee services like dining, concierge services, company store, bank and fitness center in a comfortable environment. It is conceived as a gathering place, where people can meet and spend time together. Essentially a rectangular building, it curves in on one side to follow the form of Fortaleza Hall. With its load-bearing Kasota stone walls, it forms a visual counterpoint to the steel and glass structure of the hall, echoing the surrounding masonry buildings. The two buildings are linked by a glazed atrium and lift lobby, which connects via an undercroft to the matrix of underground pedestrian tunnels on the campus.

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