dancing with architecture: Norman and Oklahoma City
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I found myself in Oklahoma for 24 hours this past week and was able to steal a few minutes to poke my head in on a couple of houses designed by Bruce Goff. The conditions weren't ideal: I didn't have my real camera with me and the sky was dusking, but I did what I could do.
I kinda like Goff. Born in Kansas with much of his work focused in Oklahoma, my best description of his designs would be Plains Googie. Frank Lloyd Wright pursued a unique American architecture inspired, at different times, by Midwestern prairies, the Mayans, and southwestern mountains. Goff, heavily inspired by Wright, chose American Indians as his touchsource. His soaring often cable-supported designs brought the Googie to the table, his personal style of neo-expressionism. Another calling card of his was the use of large chunks of glass.
I was happy to see that the Ledbetter House in Norman, close to the university, is, in fact, owned by the university. This pleased me for two reasons: (1) university ownership suggests that the house will remain preserved (they presently rent it) and (2) university ownership suggests penance for firing Goff in 1955, head of the architecture department at the time, for being gay.
The Ledbetter House, built in 1947, is quite nice with two large cable-suspended disks floating outside, one for the carport and another for a side patio. The house is very organic, resting easily among the bushes and trees.
I was also able to stop in at the Pollock House (1957) in northwestern Oklahoma City. When I pulled down the street, I thought to myself "Surely the address is wrong..." because the neighborhood is late-80s to early-90s suburbia, but there it was, all the more glorious given its surroundings, teepee-ish in its dusking glory. My photos are awful: incentive to come back again (and also see the Goff-designed church nearby). The black-and white photos below are from the National Register of Historic Places documents.
Narrow Larry's map of selected architecture by Bruce Goff