Bruce Goffs Bavinger House


Bruce Goff・s working career spanned sixty-six years, from 1916, when he began working in an architect・s office, until his death in 1982. During that time he received more than 450 commissions for buildings and related designs, resulting in more than 500 proposals of which at least 147 were realized. Bruce Goff occupied a unique place in American architecture. His buildings looked like those of no other architect. His idiosyncratic designs juxtaposed shapes in unexpected but delightful combinations. His reliance on unusual materials resulted in strange, sometimes futuristic combinations of colors and textures. His interior designs were resolutely unconventional and were intended to provide both physical comfort and spiritual sustenance. His goal was to design for the .continuous present・ without referring specifically to the past, present, or future. Working on this ideal plane, Goff continually found new and surprising ways to satisfy the functional demands of a project. The distinctiveness of Goff\'s designs could be ascribed in large part to his determination not to be bound by previous approaches to architecture, to his total commitment to his clients\' desires, and to his ceaseless search for inspiration in music, painting, and literature.

Unlike many of his fellow architects, Bruce Goff did not seek to provide historians with a cohesive body of work in any conventional fashion. Goff worked his entire life to free architecture from the indolent idioms of the past and to show by his own example that there were many extraordinary possibilities for innovation in the world. No two of his buildings looked the same, and this seemed to have been his goal; his maxim of .beginning again and again・ did not lend itself to the inbred refinement of style practiced by most of his contemporaries. In describing his approach to architecture, he said, :Each time we do a building it should be the first and the last. We should begin again and again, because all problems are different from each other; even if they may seem similar.; Goff・s discontinuity of personal style was simply reflection of the multiplicity of client style.

Goff・s distinctive organic style:

Almost from the first publications of Bruce Goff\'s architectural work in the various media there had been an association made between Goff\'s designs and those of Frank Lloyd Wright---critics pointed out the similarity of design philosophies as well as the similarities found between some of the works of each architect. During the presentation in a conference entitled .An American Architecture: Its Roots, Growth and Horizons・, Goff discussed the many influences on his \'style\' of architecture and in particular the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright on his work:

"I think he (Frank Lloyd Wright) helped more than any other single thing in my life to make me realize that there was a great deal of freedom (in architectural design) once you understood more about organic architecture and develop your own feeling about it in your own wayK.;

Frank Lloyd Wright introduced the word .organic・ into his philosophy of architecture as early as 1908. His organic architecture was to eliminate .box・ which was a favorite form in International Style and to liberate the human spirit in the building and related it to its environment. It was also an extension of the teachings of his mentor Louis Sullivan whose slogan .form follows function・ became the mantra of modern architecture. Wright changed this phrase to .form an function are one,・ using nature as the best example of this integration. Wright\'s organic architecture took on a new meaning. It was not a style of imitation, because he did not claim to be building forms which were representative of nature. Instead organic architecture was a reinterpretation of nature\'s principles as they had been filtered through the intelligent minds of men and women who could then build forms which were more natural than nature itself. Organic architecture was definitely a new sense of shelter for humane life. He wrote:

:All buildings built should serve the liberation of mankind, liberating the lives of individuals. What amazing beauty would be ours if man\'s spirit, thus organic, should learn to characterize this new free life of ours in America as natural.;

Wright\'s philosophy of organic architecture was not to be confused with his singular style. That style was unique, his personal