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Bruce Goff Archive

Bruce Goff (1904–1982) was one of the most inventive and iconoclastic architects of the twentieth century. Born in Kansas, he spent most of his life practicing in Oklahoma, Chicago, and Texas. In addition to his pursuit of “design for the continuous present” through architecture, Goff was also an artist and in the 1930s, a composer of modern piano compositions.

Apart from his own innate creativity, Goff found inspiration for his work from a variety of sources, including the architecture of Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Antoni Gaudí, Erich Mendelsohn, modern European fine arts and music, and the arts of Japan and Southeast Asia.

In a career that spanned more than six decades, Goff saw almost a hundred and fifty of his architectural designs—of a total oeuvre of more than five hundred—built in fifteen states. While the majority of his projects were private residences, commercial and civic buildings appeared throughout in both large and small-scale commissions. In each of these designs, Goff's sensitivity to client, site, space, and material set him apart from the mainstream.

Goff also profoundly influenced a younger generation of architects through his teaching at the University of Oklahoma, apprenticeships, and lectures and is regarded as one of the masters of organic architecture in the United States. In 1995, The Art Institute of Chicago mounted a major retrospective exhibition of his work, with an accompanying catalog, The Architecture of Bruce Goff, 1904-1982: Design for the Continuous Present.

In 1990, The Art Institute of Chicago received Goff's comprehensive archive through the Shin'enKan Foundation, Inc. and Goff's executor, Joe Price. Additional donations have been received from various sources. Because of the vast scope of the archive, its contents were subsequently divided according to material type between several departments at the Art Institute, as described below.