The mid-century modern movement found an odd yet welcoming home in the small town of Norman, Oklahoma. One of its most notable contributors was organic aficionado Bruce Goff. Goff came to popularity in the 1940’s as both instructor and practitioner of his eclectic brand of architecture. Goff’s 1950′s Bavinger House is seen by many as the crowning achievement of his extensive body of work.
The Bavinger House put a new twist on the naturalist modernism of Goff’s contemporaries. Where Wright used flat planes and conventional floor plans, Goff introduced distinctive floor plans, mixing materiality with eccentric spaces to produce a desired effect.
Evoking a castle-like sense of earthy monumentality the home rises against the forested landscape, eventually reaching its ultimate point. The walls are made of locally quarried “ironstone” that is replaced intermittently with large blue pieces of glass cullet. This added extra gives a whimsical charm to this organic growth of architecture.
The spiraling roof which covers the whole of the structure is supported by cables connected to the center mast. The exterior stone walls seem to grow out of the landscape and surround the house, adding to its connection with the earth.
The interior consists of floor “pods” radiating off of the central axis. These floor planes are hung off of the walls and central support as they climb to their apex. Each pod serves a different purpose containing bedrooms, withdrawing space and study space, all of which are open to the space below unless closed off with curtains.
With recent rumors of roof collapse and waning funds to restore and maintain the structure, the future of this modernist masterpiece is uncertain. This is an unfortunate pattern that is being seen for many modern masterworks. Despite its age the Bavinger House still evokes ideals of earth-bound natural and symbolic architecture.