Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Was Goff green? Was Goff sustainable? Regardless "Goff in the Desert" will amaze.

Bruce Goff may be well know among architects but he isn't among mainstream fans of architecture. The film Goff in the Desert by German director Heinz Emigholz explores 62 of the more than 150 structures that were designed and built by Goff between 1920 and 1982.

Goff's work ranges from the art deco beauty of the Boston Avenue Church in Tulsa to the innovative and attractive works of his later years such the Frank family home built with Frankoma tile . In theaters this film consisted almost entirely of static shots of the buildings without commentary. The soundtrack is whatever sounds the camera picked up, which includes lots of traffic.

After watching the DVD be sure to listen to the director's commentary. The German director's take on Goff and the United States is quite interesting. The director mentions that they never knew what to expect when they pulled up to a Goff house to film. You will feel the same way as you watch this film.

Though Goff was fond of certain elements such as an extremely open floor plan, multiple levels, round sunken sitting areas in front of fireplaces, covered patios, and unusual roof lines, he did not repeat himself. Each house is a surprise. You can learn more about his philosophy at the Duncan Castle of Cobden Illinois which is operates as very reasonably priced B&B.

The fact that so many of these houses were built in places where one would not expect to find unusual architecture speaks to Goff's persuasive personality.

So was his work green and sustainable? Goff liked to re-purpose industrial items for his homes and he certainly took advantage of daylighting but it the film does not address his interest in what we would call green issues today, so the question is open.

Nevertheless, if you are a fan of the innovative and beautiful be sure to add Goff in the Desert to your Netflix queue and watch it twice, once without commentary and once with.

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