American School in Venice - Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture

American School in Venice

“Do Not Try to Remember”

Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture in Venice


European Cultural Centre

Palazzo Bembo

Venice, Italy

May 26 – Nov. 25, 2018

↓ Read the press release

The pioneering efforts of University of Oklahoma architecture professors and students during the 1950s and ’60s, including Bruce Goff, Herb Greene, and others, is known as The American School. Together, they re-imagined the possibilities of the built environment, beginning fresh with each new project. To tell this story, this exhibition centers on the theme “Do Not Try To Remember,” a phrase often used in Goff’s teachings.

While OU students developed a keen awareness of global architectural history under Goff’s leadership, when they arrived in the design studio, they were instructed: “Do not try to remember.” Do not begin with classical column capitals and proportional systems or modernist pilotis and grids. Do not begin by imitating the designs of your instructor. Do not arrive at the beginning with the end already in mind. Instead, begin fresh. Begin with the natural context: the slope of the land, the quality of the light, and the local materials. Be earnest when responding to the program. Sincerely listen to the needs and desires of the client. Most importantly, begin by trusting your own creative instincts.

The results of this pedagogical experiment–the fantastic environments imagined on paper and through built works–are characterized by complex geometries, attention to context, and resourcefulness. This exhibition displays these works through a timeline of Bruce Goff’s life, as well as key events of The American School and the 20th century, alongside images of projects from The American School.

The Venice Biennale

The Venice Architecture Biennale has been the most important international exhibition venue for contemporary architecture for nearly 50 years. Occurring every other year, the Biennale draws hundreds of thousands of people to Venice, Italy, to survey the latest in design on view throughout sites, gardens, and palazzi across the city. It is estimated that the 2018 European Cultural Centre show at Palazzo Bembo attracted over 300,000 visitors.  

Virtual Reality Tours

Produced by Skyline Ink of Oklahoma City in stunning detail, these virtual reality tours give you an up-close look at two well-known Bruce Goff’s projects.

Crystal Chapel (1950)

Bavinger House (1947)

Installation Images

12 images

About the American School

Learn more about this unique period of design and what OU is doing to preserve its memory.

Renegades: Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture

Explore this large-scale American School exhibition in an interactive virtual reality format, download kids’ activities, and more.

We’re grateful to the many Renegades who donated their work and shared their stories with us.

This would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of an incredible team.

Faculty, staff and students who worked on the American School in Venice project: Farzan Mahmoudzadeh, Behrooz Dehghan Parchini, Tayana Ghosh, Daniel J. Kleypas, Jamie M. Leake, John B. DeCuyper, Cody B. Poage, Alex J. Quinn, Magdalena A. Schaffernicht, Avery R. Smith, Kelsee B. Smith, Jillane C. Tatarian, Stephanie Z. Pilat, Angela M. Person, Erik Baker, Hans E. Butzer, Michael E. Hoffner, Luca Guido, Ken Marold, Stephanie M. Soash, Garrett R. Stowe, Klint Schor, Garrett Slezak, Lorenzo Perez, Billy Danna, Nickolas L. Harm, Samuel E. Callahan 

Special thanks to the American School partners who made this exhibition possible: Ross Group Charitable Foundation of Tulsa, Oklahoma; The OU Office of the ProvostSkyline InkThe University of Oklahoma LibrariesThe OU Office of the Vice President of ResearchAllford Hall Monaghan MorrisHornbeek Blatt ArchitectsW DesignHome Creations; OU Libraries Digitization Lab; The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art; The Division of Architecture Professional Advisory Board; Donald MacDonald; Fred and Kathleen Schmidt; David and Brenda Hornbeek; Herb Greene; Ted and Lindsay Reeds; Jaqueline Rose; Eddie Jones; and Roger Fincher

Photographs: Marcin Dabrowski and Luca Guido.