Tuesday 27 February 2024


Beijing Library - completed 2024.

Johnson Wax Headquarters - completed 1936-1939.

The article reported on the opening of Snøhetta’s Beijing Library: see - https://www.archdaily.com/1013769/snohetta-opens-the-beijing-city-library-containing-the-worlds-largest-climatized-reading-space It seems an obvious reference - Wright’s Johnson Wax Headquarters - but nothing is said about this relationship. In an interview – see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2_r5rhItFI - Snøhetta’s founder spoke of creativity, and the problem of CAD libraries limiting one’s originality. Has CAD had an impact here?

Johnson Wax Headquarters.

A close look at both projects - Johnson Wax and the Beijing Library - reveals how astonishing Wright is with his concepts, with the complexity of their organic development in every detail; and how itemised and singular the ideas in the Snøhetta project are: an intriguing, layered ceiling; a classic library stepping; a different zigzag wall; an interesting interior space; etc.

Wright’s work is simply mesmerising in its integrated richness; its inventive twists and turns that all relate to the core ideas - an approach that continues into the furnishings, paving, and building vases. Wright seems to delight in the challenge to engage with the opportunities that various functions and their requirements impose on the original ambition.

On details: one has to recall Corb’s quote - forget about concentrating on the details; everything is important. The idea has echoes in Aalto’s response to the question: “What grid do you use?” The answer was: “One millimetre.”

Johnson Wax Headquarters tower core plan: organic coherence.

Snøhetta’s work, like many recent new projects, could be said to be an accretion of detailed ideas; a collection of concepts. Perusing the work produced from this office, one can sense the Nordic sensibility, its tolerant humanity that moderates the raw extravagance and its extremes that comes from offices in other countries with a more arrogantly bombastic approach to public life headed by self-proclaimed geniuses.

The ginkgo tree.#


Water lilies.

1936 to 1939.


The ginkgo tree.

A new 'language'; or does one read tree branches?



A Symbol of Peace, Hope and Vitality

For centuries the ginkgo tree and leaves have been seen as a symbol of peace and hope, aiding to its continued presence throughout human history.

A Symbol of Duality and Love

The ginkgo tree has also represented the theme of duality in various cultures throughout history, which stems from its unique botanical form. Ginkgo trees are dioecious, meaning that each ginkgo tree has either male or female sexual organs. Additionally, the ginkgo’s leaves often appear to have two lobes that are split halfway down the middle. This “duality” of the tree is expressed in many works of art and literature.


See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginkgo_biloba

The symbolism of the tree seems to have an appropriate relationship with a library, as does its medicinal properties:

Ginkgo biloba

Fossil tree; Kew tree; Maiden hair tree

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is one of the oldest living tree species. It is also one of the best-selling herbal supplements in the United States and Europe.

Ginkgo has a long history of use in treating blood disorders and memory issues. It is best known today as way to potentially keep your memory sharp. Laboratory studies have shown that ginkgo improves blood circulation by opening up blood vessels and making blood less sticky. It is also an antioxidant.

Studies suggest that ginkgo may help people with Alzheimer disease:

  • Improve thinking, learning, and memory (cognitive function)

  • Have an easier time performing daily activities

  • Improve social behaviour

  • Have fewer feelings of depression


 9 MARCH 2024

Wright’s glazed dome in the Johnson Wax project comes to mind when the rose window in this cathedral is seen: see - https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/article286291770.html