“Renegades” Opening Celebrated at Fred Jones on Jan. 23rd, 2020


“Renegades: Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture” is on display at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman, Oklahoma, from Jan. 24, 2020 – April 5, 2020.

NORMAN – Over 380 people, including American School architect and educator Herb Greene, gathered for the opening reception and panel discussion for Renegades: Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture, at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art on January 23rd, 2020.

Renegades: Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture tells the story of an exciting period in architectural history by featuring selections from the American School Archive, as well as virtual tours of several residences designed by Bruce Goff and digitally rendered by Skyline Ink of Oklahoma City.

From left: Angela Person, Luca Guido, Bridget Burke, Michael Hoffner, and Hans E. Butzer prepare for their opening panel presentations. Image courtesy Rene Peralta.

The panel discussion featured presentations by Dr. Angela Person, who shared the American School backstory; Dr. Luca Guido, who shared the curatorial vision of the exhibition; Associate Dean of OU Libraries Bridget Burke, who shared the story of building the American School Archive; and architect Michael Hoffner, who presented the design inspiration for the exhibition. Gibbs College Dean Hans E. Butzer shared concluding remarks that situated the American School movement of the 1940s and ’50s relative to today’s grand challenges, including climate change, food security, and an aging population.

About the “Renegades” Exhibition

Under the leadership of Goff, Greene, Mendel Glickman and many others, OU architecture faculty led a pedagogical shift beginning with Goff’s arrival on campus in 1947. These professors developed a curriculum that emphasized individual creativity, organic forms and experimentation. This radical approach to design drew students to Oklahoma from as far away as Japan and South America and later spread the American School influence to professional practices in California, Hawaii, Greece and beyond.

Image courtesy Rene Peralta.

“The University of Oklahoma College of Architecture stood apart from the Beaux Arts and Bauhaus, and developed an original and authentically American approach to architecture and pedagogy,” said Angela Person, director of research initiatives and strategic planning for Gibbs College. “The OU faculty rejected the rote copying of classical architecture as well as the abstract minimalist approach popular elsewhere.” 

The American School Archive includes items from Frank Lloyd Wright, Fred David Shellabarger, Albert Yanda, Arn Henderson, Donald McDonald, John Hurtig, Norman Froelich, Jim Gardner, Ernest Burden and more. It also includes student drawings and slides, with new donations still arriving.

Image courtesy Rene Peralta.

“The American School archives continues to grow through outreach to Gibbs College of Architecture alumni and associates,” said Bridget Burke, associate dean for special collections of OU Libraries. “We’re eager to make the collection accessible to students, scholars and practitioners as part of our Western History Collection, which is rich in resources for the study of environmental history and the built environment of the southern plains.”

The exhibition also explores the role of archives and documentation as historical evidence. An example is the Barby House, built by Goff for Celestine Barby in Tucson, Arizona. The archive includes letters between Goff and Barby about costs, material and design decisions.

Image courtesy Rene Peralta.

Organized into three sections, the exhibition tells the story of dramatic change in architectural education centered on individual creativity.  From Beaux-Arts to Bauhaus, the first section, highlights the evolution in American architecture schools at the time. The second section, Bruce Goff and the School of Architecture at OU, showcases the curriculum and student work produced at OU as well as the work of faculty at the time. Bruce Goff and His Legacy, the third section, highlights the contextual, resourceful and experimental built works of American School architects around the world.

The American School project is led by Stephanie PilatLuca Guido and Angela Person. The Renegades exhibition is curated by Luca Guido, with Lynne Rostochil, and designed by Michael Hoffner, with Evan Sack and Kimberly Huff. The exhibition is the culmination of over three years of work involving more than 100 faculty, students, staff and supporters. It will be on display at the Fred Jones through April 5, 2020.

Above: American School architect Herb Greene is shown with the inaugural Herb Greene Teaching Fellow Rene Peralta. Image courtesy Rene Peralta.

The scholarly exhibition catalog, Renegades: Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture, edited by Guido, Pilat and Person, with a foreword by Aaron Betsky, is available for pre-order (OU Press 2020, $50.00).

Featured image courtesy Rene Peralta.