Bruce Goff

Bruce Goff

Infobox Architect

name=Bruce Alonzo Goff
birth_date=birth date|1904|6|8
birth_place=Alton, Kansas, U.S.
death_date=death date and age|1982|9|4|1904|6|8
death_place=Tyler, Texas, U.S.
Bavinger House
Ruth VanSickle Ford House
Colmorgan House
Pavilion for Japanese Art
Joe D. Price House and Studio

Bruce Alonzo Goff (June 8, 1904 – August 4, 1982) was an American architect.

Early years

Born in Alton, Kansas, Goff was a child prodigy who apprenticed at the age of twelve to Rush, Endacott and Rush of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Goff became a partner with the firm in 1930. He is credited, along with his high-school art teacher Adah Robinson, with the design of Boston Avenue Methodist Church in Tulsa, one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the United States.


After stints in Chicago and Berkeley, Goff accepted a teaching position with the School of Architecture at the University of Oklahoma in 1942. By 1943, despite a lack of credentials, he was chairman of the school. This was his most productive period. In his private practice, Goff built an impressive number of residences in the American Midwest, developing his singular style of organic architecture that was client- and site-specific.


Goff's accumulated design portfolio of 500 projects (about one quarter of them built) demonstrates a restless, sped-up evolution through conventional styles and forms at a young age, through the Prairie style of his heroes and correspondents Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, then into original design. Finding inspiration in sources as varied as Antoni Gaudi, Balinese music, Claude Debussy, Japanese ukiyo-e prints, and seashells, Goff's mature work had no precedent and he has few heirs other than his former assistant, New Mexico architect Bart Prince. His contemporaries primarily followed tight functionalistic floorplans with flat roofs and no ornament. Goff's idiosyncratic floorplans, attention to spatial effect, and use of recycled and/or unconventional materials such as gilded zebrawood, cellophane strips, cake pans, glass cullet, Quonset Hut ribs, ashtrays, and white turkey feathers, challenge conventional distinctions between order and disorder.

Some notable buildings designed by Goff are the Bavinger House in Norman, Oklahoma, the Ruth VanSickle Ford House in Aurora, Illinois, the Colmorgan House in Glenview, Illinois, and the Pavilion for Japanese Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Regrettably, his most ambitious built work, the Joe D. Price House and Studio in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, was destroyed by arson in 1996. Goff also designed the Searing house in Prairie Village, Kansas .

Scandals and contributions

Viewed with suspicion and contempt by many in the architectural community,Fact|date=June 2008 Goff was caught up in a sexual scandal involving one of his students in 1955 and lost his university position, and much of his reputation. It is still speculated today that Goff lost his position at the then conservative university because of his homosexuality.Fact|date=March 2007 Nevertheless, Goff maintained a devoted group of students and clients and continued to design through the late 1970s. Today, Goff's contributions to the history of 20th-century architecture are widely praised. His extant archive—including architectural drawings, paintings, musical compositions, photographs, project files, and personal and professional papers—is held by The Art Institute of Chicago.

The University that fired him now sponsors the Bruce Goff Professorship of Creative Architecture in his honor.


Goff died in Tyler, Texas in 1982. His cremated remains are interred in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois, with a marker designed by Grant Gustafson (one of Goff's students) that incorporates a glass cullet fragment salvaged from the ruins of the Joe D. Price House and Studio.

External links

*The Art Institute of Chicago page for the [ Bruce Goff Archive] .
* [ Friends of Kebyar] , an international network of people interested in original and innovative architecture and Bruce Goff's legacy, founded by former colleagues and students of Goff.
* [ ADAO - International Web Portal of Organic Architecture]
* [ Bruce Goff Castle BandB] The Duncan House, built in 1968, now operated as a Bed and Breakfast.
* [ "Goff in the Desert" documentary by Heinz Emigholz.]
* [ Cimarron Heritage Center, formerly the Cox House, was designed by Goff.]

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