In 1935, H.F. Johnson Jr traveled to Brazil to search for a sustainable source of natural wax: the carnaúba palm tree. He fled in a Sikorsky-38 amphibious plane and traveled as far as 15,000-mile. Some sixty-three years later, his son Sam retraced that flight in a replica of the Carnaúba plane to complete a historic family journey. Fortaleza Hall commemorates the H.F. Johnson Jr flight and provides a permanent home for the historic replica aircraft and tells the story of its flight.
Comprising two companion buildings, Fortaleza Hall project continues a tradition of inspired architectural patronage on a seminal Frank Lloyd Wright campus in Wisconsin, and is a tribute to the pioneering fifth generation S C Johnson family company. The Community Building gives the campus a new social heart with a range of staff facilities including restaurants, shops and a gymnasium.
Lord Foster said: “Fortaleza Hall has given us a unique opportunity to work alongside one of the finest Modern buildings in the world – the Johnson Wax Building – and to tell a remarkable story of adventure and discovery. H.F. Johnson’s decision to commission Frank Lloyd Wright was an inspiring act of architectural patronage, as was our brief to design both Fortaleza Hall and the Community Building. This project celebrates a pioneering family, a remarkable company and an historic journey.”
Fortaleza Hall was designed by Foster + Partners in collaboration with A Epstein and Sons Inc. (Architects – Chicago), Ralph Appelbaum Associates (Experience Design – New York), Buro Happold (Structural Engineering – New York) and Cosentini Associates (MEP Engineering – Chicago). (Photos by James Steinkamp_Steinkamp Photography)