Building Science

The Innovation Behind the Bautex Block Has Roots in Frank Lloyd Wright Design

The current intel­li­gent and time saving design of the Bautex wall System, which is ahead of its time, has a remark­able resem­blance to the past, in the creative thinking process of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Automatic design.

Following the Depres­sion, in an atmos­phere of resource shortages and increas­ing costs and while focusing on the need for low-cost housing for the middle-class, Wright created his Usonian Automatic design. Most of these designs were modular in concept and often laid out on triangle, rectangle and hexagonal grids, and were usually con­struct­ed with wood and brick. However, Wright also focused on alternate designs and material com­bi­na­tions. By 1950, he created a building system which included a concrete masonry building system for his Usonian Design.

The foun­da­tion of his design was concrete block that was laid up without the use of mortar. This block included both hor­i­zon­tal and vertical semi­cir­cu­lar spaces that faced other blocks. Steel rein­force­ment bar were inserted into these voids, which were then filled with grout.


The sim­i­lar­i­ty in Wright’s Usonian Automatic system and the inno­v­a­tive Bautex Wall System design is remark­able. Bautex replaces the all-concrete block used by Wright with the patented Bautex Block, which is made from a light­weight composite material that provides more insu­la­tion and life safety benefits and meets the latest building codes. Like Wright’s invention, the Bautex Block also includes spaces to insert rebar both ver­ti­cal­ly and hor­i­zon­tal­ly, which are then filled to form a concrete grid to support floors and roof of one to three story buildings. Another sig­nif­i­cant update to the original concept, the Bautex Wall System includes a fluid-applied air and moisture barrier on the outside of the wall that provides a tight and extremely energy-efficient building envelope that will meet and even exceed the require­ments of most com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion projects.

Wright also concluded that To build a low-cost house you must eliminate, so far as possible, the use of skilled labor, now so expensive.” Bautex also follows this thinking. The Bautex Wall System is installed quickly and effi­cient­ly by local masonry, concrete or framing con­trac­tors, or can be self-performed by general con­trac­tors — installing up to twice as fast as tra­di­tion­al wall systems thus reducing the need for addi­tion­al trades. The sim­i­lar­i­ties between Wright’s Usonian Automatic concrete masonry building system and today’s Bautex Wall System are remark­able. Great minds think alike!

Ref­er­ences 1. PUBLICATION #C881028 Copyright © 1988, The Aberdeen Group All rights reserved