History of Innovation

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1936: Johnson Wax Building

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Innovation: Dendriform columns
Location: Racine, WI
Year: 1936
Inventor: Frank Lloyd Wright

Wright was inspired to create the dendriform columns by observing that trees in a forest generate space and allows light to enter easily. He designed the columns 21 feet high, 31 feet in the lobby, tapering from 22-inch diameter at the top to a 9-inch bronze base. Within was hidden a rainwater pipe, which was intended to avoid water leaks. Wright intuitively drafted the conoid form that exactly follow the line of stresses from roof to base. He made the upper part of the column hollow, its walls only 3.5 inches thick, and continued them into the 2.5 inch thick petal with its supporting ribs.

Refusing to accept the engineering calculations, the building department demanded that the new column be tested with a load of 24,000 pounds, twice the full design load. A crane dumped load after load of pig iron on the column. When the load reached the 24,000 pound required, Wright insisted they keep going and see how far the column could go before the point of destruction. At 60 tons, it was carrying 5 times the test requirements. This new technology proved Wright’s ability to design a practical column without limiting its aesthetic design.




Written by Andres Garcia

October 8, 1936 at 1:49 am

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1936: Fundamentals of Japanese Architecture (Book)

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Innovation: Introduced Japanese architecture to U.S.
Location: Takasaki, Japan
Year: 1936
Inventor: Bruno Taut

German architect, Bruno Taut, was highly known by his theoretical works, speculative writings and great buildings he designed. As a jew with social democratic sympathies, he had to leave Germany and move to Takasaki, Japan. There he produced a very influential book of Japanese culture and architecture, comparing the historical simplicity of Japanese architecture with modernist discipline. In the book he revealed interesting features of the Katsura Imperial Villa to the West, which amazed great architects like Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius by its modernity. Further, he articulated the relationship between proportion, site, and logic in Japanese architecture. Under these principles, he designed Villa Okura by making extensive use of horizontal sun-shading devices in order to block direct sunlight during the summer months while allowing the warm air to rise and escape through the high windows, creating both ventilation and air movement. Even though his works as an architect are not very popular, his writings influenced well-known architects which introduced Japanese architecture into the U.S.


Written by Andres Garcia

October 8, 1936 at 1:21 am

1935: Kodak Kodachrome

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Innovation: Commercial color photography
Location: Rochester, NY
Year: 1935
Inventor: Leopold Godowsky Jr. , Leopold Mannes

In 1935, Leopold Mannes and Leopold Godowsky, both passionate musicians, revolutionized color photography by inventing Kodachrome color film. They created a simple film for color photography, which was very easy to use and of exceptional quality. This new technology created a cultural, artistic and commercial revolution as many photographers started using it for both still and motion picture photography. Kodak started selling 16mm movie films their first year, and then they introduced the 35mm and 828 format for still cameras.

To obtain a color image it depends on the division of light into three components, red, green, and blue-violet. It is necessary to convert each component image of the negative into a positive image. The images in the three layers are developed, then by a series of treatments they are transformed into positives. At the end of the process, the image consist of three superimposed dye pictures. This whole process was known as the Kodachrome process, which made photography easy to create. Unfortunately this great innovation ended its production in June 2009, being replaced by digital cameras.

Sources: [1][2]

Written by Andres Garcia

October 8, 1935 at 7:10 pm

1931: Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, CA

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Innovation:  Suspension bridge (cable technology)
Location:  San Francisco, California
Year: 1931
By: Charles Ellis (Engineer), John Roebling and Sons (Cable Manufacturer)

While constructing the Golden Gate Bridge, many innovations in technology arouse due to the visionary project. The most important one became the cable technology involved in the bridge, which uses the largest bridge cables ever made, long enough to encircle the world more than three times at the equator. After calculating the dip forces, the cables had to be super flexible, strong enough to support the weight of the bridge, and had to be constructed on-site. John Roebling and Sons met the requirements by a construction process they called Parallel Wire Construction. This technique enabled any cable of any length and thickness to be created by binding thinner wires together. Many wires the diameter of a pencil were bound together into strands, which then were compressed by a hydraulic jack to make a cable. Each of the two main cables has over three feet in diameter, 7,659 feet long and contains 27,572 parallel wires. One wire at a time, the cables for the Golden Gate bridge were spun from tower to tower, anchorage to anchorage. The work had to be performed in a precise sequence in order to create the balance needed for the cables to absorb the proper amount of wind pressure.

Source: [1]

Written by Andres Garcia

October 7, 1931 at 6:16 pm