Bruce Goff's Bavinger House

Essay by wasubiiUniversity, Bachelor'sA, October 2002

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Introduction: 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...