1904: Larkin Administration Building

Throughout his long life of design, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright deployed his considerable personal charm to great effect. A friendship with a Larkin Mail Order Company executive, Darwin D. Martin, led to Lloyd Wright’s designing his first major public work, the company’s administration building, as well as homes for Martin and two other executives in 1904.

In a 1906 essay for Larkin’s in-house magazine, composed after the administration building’s inauguration, Lloyd Wright reminds the reader that he designs not only for the executives and the employees, but also for the janitors:

The water-closets and their enclosures are all hung free of the floor with few horizontal joints anywhere in which dirt may lodge and instead of the usual dusty, banging doors, cleanable sliding screens are used. The metal lockers likewise and the metal desks are all designed with metal bases that at intervals only, touch the floor. The seats themselves are swung free of the floor onto the desk legs, never to scrape noisily about or to be lifted by the janitor for cleaning purposes; think of the labor that would be required each night to pile 1800 chairs on top of 1800 desks and then to pile them down again!

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