GOFF, Bruce

(1904-1982)
   Born in Kansas, Bruce Goff received an architectural apprenticeship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when he was merely 12 years old. Despite his lack of a formal education, Goff closely studied the domestic prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright and went on to become a professor and then dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma in the 1940s and 1950s. During that time, Goff was solicited by Harold C. Price to build the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, but he turned down the commission, and the building was subsequently constructed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Goff's eclectic style found favor in the college town of Norman, Oklahoma, where he built several homes, including the Ledbetter House in 1947 and the Bavinger House in 1950-1955.
   The Bavinger House, built for Eugene Bavinger, a modernist artist in the School of Art at the University of Oklahoma, is an avant-garde home in its innovative mix of materials and an organic, expressive design. Built from glass, steel, and local rock, the house explores a huge range of textures and techniques that make Goff's buildings more unique than practical. Goff supplied the designs for the house, while the Bavingers constructed the home, which created a close friendship between architect and patron. The Bavinger House is built on a spiral, beginning with the entrance ramp that leads through the front door and into the round interior rooms. The center point of the house is capped with what looks like a flagpole, to which is attached wooden slats that curve around and up the pole in the shape of a seashell spiral. This spiral forms a stairway that leads up and around the home. The unorthodox shape of the house then requires suspension cables attached to the rooms to buttress the exterior. The rooms, including Bavinger's oval-shaped studio, appear to hang from this spiral framework, while the studio projects outward from an upper level of the home. The home cultivates a connection between home and nature that was unprecedented for its day, and Bruce Goff's exploratory style also allowed for a kind of free expression and organic appeal rarely seen in modern domestic architecture.
   See also EXPRESSIONISM.

Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts. . 2008.

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