PaperCity Magazine

December 2018- Dallas

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Page 89 of 111

hanging behind a large window. This feature was unlike anything I had ever seen before as a window treatment, so I decided this must be the house. As I walked up the sidewalk to the front door and rang the doorbell, I began to get nervous. That quickly dissipated when Mr. Goff opened the door, standing 6'4" tall and wearing a colorful abstract geometric-patterned shirt. With a warm smile and in the same tone I'd heard on the phone, he said, "Hello, you must be Mr. Morris." He invited me into his office, which was the front room with the streamers in the window, and it was then I noticed the the window- treatment material: standard reel-to-reel audio recording tape! This was the first clue that I was in for a special engagement. He asked me to take a seat opposite his desk, and as I looked around the room, I noticed there were no images or models of his work. Instead, floor-to-ceiling shelving was filled with record albums and covered with the same vertical recording tape. On the perimeter of his desk were several natural objects such as crystals and seashells. After the initial period of acquaintance, our conversation flowed easily and naturally, covering a variety of subjects, starting with stories of how he knew Frank Lloyd Wright and their lifelong friendship. As a young man growing up on a farm outside Tulsa, Mr. Goff would collect natural objects such as sticks, stones, bones, etc. ("natural Legos," he called them) and make constructions in his room in the attic of his house. When the ceiling caved in one day, his father apprenticed him, at the age of 12, to the Tulsa architecture firm Rush, Endacott & Rush. The head draftsman, the son of one of the partners, became a mentor to young Bruce and showed him architectural drafting. He realized that Bruce had talent. Sweeping floors stopped, and Goff became a draftsman at 14. One day in 1918, Goff was given a house to design, and he made drawings unlike anything in the office. The head draftsman stopped by his desk and asked him if he knew the work of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Goff said no, so the draftsman showed him a copy of the 1911 Wasmuth Portfolio, the first international publication of Wright's work. Goff was very excited to see that another person was thinking like him and decided to write a letter, simply addressed to Frank Lloyd Wright, Taliesin, Wisconsin. Weeks passed with no reply, and young Bruce became the brunt of jokes from the other draftsmen. Then one day, the jokes stopped, as a large box arrived addressed to Mr. Bruce Goff. It was an original edition of the Wasmuth Portfolio in a beautiful silk-covered box with a note inside that read: "Happy to know I have a friend in Tulsa, Oklahoma," signed Frank Lloyd Wright. That first day, our conversation progressed from Wright to many other diverse stories and topics. I was so impressed by his knowledge and demeanor that I asked Mr. Goff if we could continue the next day, Easter Sunday, without knowing if he was religious. He replied, "Of course, I would love to." So began a course of periodic weekend visits from 1979 through 1981, during which I recorded over 12 hours — a small fraction of our conversations. During one of the visits, he opened his flat files filled with incredible hand-drafted drawings and details of several projects. On my last visit in 1981, he presented me with a slide show of one of his masterpieces: Shin'en Kan, the house and studio in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, for Joe Price, son of H.C. Price, who built the Price Tower by Frank Lloyd Wright, also in Bartlesville. The one element I remember as extra unusual was the crystal-shaped, colored-glass aquarium in the living room that went through the floor into the ceiling of the master bath below. Bavinger House, Norman, Oklahoma, 1950-1955, was a showpiece for the tenets of Bruce Goff's organic modern architecture. In the Bavinger House, the use of glass cullets, chunks from the glass-making process, added drama. The first floor of the Bavinger House epitomizes Goff's focus upon natural materials employed in an organic architectural language. 88 (continued on page 90)

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