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For the first time, step inside S.C. Johnson’s research tower

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RACINE (WITI) -- A virtual time capsule has been opened in Racine. For the first time ever, S.C. Johnson Company is opening its research tower to the public. The unique structure was designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright -- known for incorporating elements of nature in his work.

Greg Anderegg was busy leading a tour of S.C. Johnson's research tower on Wednesday, April 23rd. He says it's something the public has been interested in seeing for a long time.

"It was a very common question: 'oh, can we see the research and development tower?' And we always had to say, 'no unfortunately not,' but now starting next week, 'yeah! Absolutely!'" Anderegg said.

The S.C. Johnson tower is the only research and development building Frank Lloyd Wright ever designed.

It has never been opened to the public -- both while it was in use and after it closed in 1983.

It stands 153 feet tall and its central core, which is 13 feet in diameter, extends 54 feet into the ground. All 15 floors of the Research Tower are supported by the “taproot” core, much like a tree supports its branches.

S.C. Johnson has restored two of the 15 floors, and has brought back period equipment and work space mock-ups.

Of the 15 floors, six are square, with circular mezzanine floors above them, with one additional square floor on the second level.

Running up the core of the building are an elevator and a stairway.

More than 5,800 Pyrex glass tubes serve as its windows, with the exterior lined with bands of more than 21,000 bricks, featuring the signature Wright/SC Johnson color, “Cherokee Red.”

For architecture gurus -- it's a gem!

In fact, it is one of the tallest "cantilevered" buildings in the United States.

"It has fifteen floors and all of the floors hung off of the central core with no exterior walls at ground level providing support to the exterior of the building," Anderegg said.

Frank Lloyd Wright called it "organic architecture." He built the tower incorporating the characteristics of nature. 

"There are seventeen miles of glass tubing in this building -- creates a whole skin of these Pyrex tubes which are translucent. They let light in. You are getting a lot of natural light but you don't have a clear view," Brady Roberts, chief curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum said.

In a working lab, it is important not to be distracted -- but now, as a piece of living history, tour groups won't be able to take their eyes off of it.

Public tours begin on May 2nd and are free -- but those who are interested are encouraged to reserve a spot.

CLICK HERE to book a tour!