In 1987, the Bavinger House, designed by Kansas architect Bruce Goff was awarded the Twenty Five Year Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Nearly 30 years on from receiving the award, Bavinger House, once lauded as a quintessential icon of organic modernist architecture, has been demolished. Originally built in 1955 in Norman, Oklahoma, Goff collaborated with artists Eugene and Nancy Bavinger as well as students from the University of Oklahoma to create a spiraling fan-like building whose core is shielded behind clumps of sandstone. The house's signature 96-foot-long spiral, which curved downwards in logarithmic fashion, mimicked that of a sail unfurling in the wind. Trapped in suspense, Goff showcased the tensile trends that were emerging in architecture at the time, with Frei Otto, a notable ambassador of this technique, earning his doctorate in tensioned constructions only a year prior. Among it's woodland surroundings, Bavinger House was pinned to the ground through a recycled oil field drill stem which was also used to elevate the central mast above 55 feet. With no interior walls, an array of multi-height platforms created space within the house while the ground floor was covered with pools and planting. For the House, Goff told the Chicago Tribune in 1995 that he "wanted to do something that had no beginning and no ending." "This house begins again and again," he continued. "Gertrude Stein talks about the sense of not being in the past, present or future tense, but in the 'continuous present.' I was thinking in those terms." In the decade leading up to 2008, however, reports filtered through of vacancy and the house's deterioration. Writing for the Architectural Review, Michael Webb said in 2005 that the house had "become as choked with vegetation as a lost temple in the jungle. It received the 25-Year Award from the American Institute of Architects in 1987, but today only the 'no trespassing' signs denote its presence—as a creeper-clad spiral of stone that can barely be glimpsed through the trees." After funding to restore the building ran into problems, the Bavinger House suffered more woes with heavy damage being inflicted after a storm in 2011. With the central spire being one of the more notable features in need of repair, the house's official website stated that the building would not be able to reopen. This statement was later amended to "Closed Permanently". That same year, the Oklahoma Office of Historical Preservation received an anonymous phone call from a man threatening to bulldoze the building. Local news station "News 9" suspected this to be Bob Bavinger, the now owner of the house and son of Eugene and Nancy and went to investigate. Upon arrival however, they were welcomed with gunfire. Speaking of the building's fate, the younger Bavinger told the Norman Transcript in 2011 that there was an ongoing conflict with the University of Oklahoma over the home's ownership and restoration. He said that demolition “was the only solution that we had, we got backed into a corner.” Come August 2012 though, the website of Bavinger House issued a statement saying: "The House will never return under its current political situation." Four years further on April 28 2016, Caleb Slinkard in the Norman Transcript reported “all that is left of the Bavinger House is an empty clearing.” For those who never had a chance to visit the building, a video walkthrough is available here courtesy of Skyline Ink.
Posts tagged with "Bruce Goff":
October has become the month of architecture tours in cities all across the country. The largest and most ambitious of these tour programs is Docomomo's Tour Day that takes place throughout the month but primarily on October 11. Docomomo will sponsor or organize architecture tours in nearly half the states in the country, and in 37 different cities. This years theme is "The Future of Mid-Century" and it looks into current issues facing modern architecture today and highlights the innovative and progressive work of architects, designers, and typologies not usually recognized within the scope of mid-century design. This year, for example, tour attendees will have exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to “The Egg,” designed by Wallace Harrison in Albany, New York, as part of Historic Albany’s guided walking tour. Detroit Area Art Deco Society’s tour of select Detroit area Lustron Homes will provide a rare look into the world of post-war prefab homes. In Las Vegas, guests can hop on Paradise Palms’ double-decker bus and learn which homes belonged to local and national celebrities such as Johnny Carson, Phyliss Diller, Sonny Liston, Juliet Prowse, and Rip Taylor. And in Maryland, attendees should bring their bike for a tour of modern residential architecture hosted by Montgomery Modern in partnership with the AIA Potomac chapter. Tour Day 2014 is also partnering with organizations such as Palm Springs Modernism and Tucson Modernism Weeks who are offering multiple day celebrations of modernism in their area. "However, one of the most exciting Tour Day 2014 events is the debut of SarasotaMOD,” stated Docomomo US’ Executive Director Liz Waytkus and The Architects Newspaper will be there to send daily updates on the proceedings in the coastal Florida city. But if we were not in Florida we would most want to be in Southern California or Minnesota. The Southern California Docomomo chapter will celebrate the work of Organicists Bruce Goff and Bart Prince in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the opening of Goff's and Prince's Pavilion for Japanese Art (top). In a lecture at LACMA on Sunday, October 12, 2014, Bart Prince will discuss his own work, his collaboration with Bruce Goff, and the design of the Pavilion for Japanese Art. On Saturday, October 18, 2014, Docomomo SoCal will host a reception at the architects Al Struckus House, where the current owners will share their experience living in one of Los Angeles’ most idiosyncratic architectural masterpieces. The tour offered by Docomomo US’ chapter in Minnesota will allow attendees to explore modern residential design in two Saint Paul neighborhoods: University Grove and the hidden gem Stonebridge Boulevard. Finally, a complete listing of Docomomo partners and events for Tour Day 2014 is now available here.