Posts tagged with "Bruce Goff":

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Bruce Goff’s imaginative teaching lives on in Oklahoma

Most architecture students study design precedents or build upon knowledge gained in history courses, but one mid-century educator repeatedly told young minds instead: 
Do not try to remember.
Bruce Goff, a self-trained architect and long-time mentee of Frank Lloyd Wright, instilled this idea in his students at the University of Oklahoma (OU) during his tenure as chairman there from 1947 to 1955. Instead of copying the popular Beaux Arts and Bauhaus styles of the recent past, Goff wanted architects in training to express their own creativity and views of the world through designs that avoided architectural stereotypes and instead presented a radical future. This era of educational exploration and disruption became known as the American School of architecture. Historian and OU Visiting Associate Professor Dr. Luca Guido is the curator behind the exhibition, Renegades: Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture at Bizzell. Now on view in OU’s Bizzell Memorial Library, it details the widespread influence of Goff’s personal teaching style and the program he built, which attracted students to the American Midwest from as far as Japan and South America. The exhibit features large-scale drawings by alumni, as well as uncovered models and writings from Goff’s students and colleagues like Herb Greene, Elizabeth Bauer Mock, Bart Prince, Mendel Glickman, and Jim Gardner, and Bob Bowlby, among others. Built from the school’s expansive American School archives, the show unveils former students' work that’s been so pristinely preserved and restored, it all looks like it was completed yesterday. Goff, who seemed to have encouraged serious attention to presentation, penmanship, and shading, left behind what Guido considers a “gold mine” of materials. Every framed assignment on view is a piece of art in and of itself—a testament to the architectural educator’s guidance. “Bruce Goff introduced a new architectural pedagogy,” Guido said, “and the School of Architecture at OU endeavored to develop the creative skills of the students as individuals rather than followers of any particular trend. The drawings represent the evidence of an extraordinary and, at the same time, little known page of the history of American contemporary architecture.” That history is one that OU is now trying more heavily to build upon. As one of just two architecture schools in Oklahoma, OU lures students from across the state, nearby Texas, and around the globe to the small town of Norman. It was considered a world-class institution during Goff’s years and still seeks to live up to that legacy today. Since becoming head of the school three years ago, Dean Hans E. Butzer has worked to re-elevate its status. “Our discussions over the past few years prove a symmetry between those defining aspects of the American School and the overarching strategic priorities of the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture,” he said. “The work of the American School of the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s may be described as contextual, resourceful, and experimental. Today, we have set the goal of graduating entrepreneurial students who design resilient cities, towns, and landscapes through the lens of social equity and environmental sustainability.” This idea is evident in the success of last year’s graduating class. As of fall 2018, one hundred percent of architecture students secured a full-time position within six months of graduation, according to Butzer. Only two, the faculty jokes, didn’t get hired. They instead went on to begin master’s degrees at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. When asked why OU graduates are so attractive to firms across the country, Butzer noted the work ethic and creative problem-solving skills they learned as students. Teaching students to speak up, stand out, and work hard can be traced back to Goff’s presence at the school and his own career as an eccentric architect who always put the client first and aimed to “go the extra mile,” according to Guido. His modus operandi was to first connect deeply with the client, ensuring the end result was strictly their vision. His objective was to never design a building he personally wanted to live in. Some of Goff’s most famous structures, the Ledbetter House in Norman, the ill-fated Bavinger House that was demolished in 2016, as well as the Bachman House in Chicago, took on forms reminiscent of Wright’s residential work—low-lying residential homes with surprisingly large interiors, cantilevered carports, and large windows—but they all displayed a curious amount of flamboyancy that was signature to Goff himself. The architecture of his early years, such as the historic Tulsa Club and the Art Deco-designed Boston Avenue Methodist Church, are celebrated landmarks in Tulsa and reveal Goff’s visual personality. Goff was also a champion of sustainable and site-specific construction; he often utilized local materials for his projects. Fittingly, Goff rejected the idea of having a personal style of architecture. Some of Goff’s mid-century work and the sketches of his students from this time seem to be inspired by Atomic Age tropes. Viewing them now, they’re so futuristic they probably seemed structurally unbuildable at the time, but the geometries that came out of the American School were forward-thinking and technically-advanced. During Goff’s leadership, architectural courses fell within OU’s College of Engineering where students were taught how to complete construction drawings and to specify materials. But in Goff’s classes, it was all about creativity. “Bruce Goff didn’t believe in critiques,” said Guido. “He wanted them completely free to propose what they wanted. The assignments were structured around abstract themes that allowed the students to express themselves in the best possible way because for Goff, there would be no little Corbusier's, no little Mies's, and even no little Goff's. He didn’t want his students to become followers of someone. He wanted them to abandon all memory of what came before them.” Renegades: Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture at Bizzell is on view through July 29 and will turn into a comprehensive traveling exhibition this year with a stop at Texas A&M University in the fall. The OU Libraries also has plans to secure the preservation of the archives by making them part of the school's Western History Collection and digitizing select images for online research.
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Bruce Goff’s spiralling Bavinger House in Oklahoma demolished

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.
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Docomomo considers the future of mid-century architecture in tour series

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.