The American School Newsletter
July 2017
In 2019, an exhibition titled "The American School: Architecture and Design on the Plains" will open at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman, Oklahoma. The American School refers to the school of design and practice that developed under the guidance of Bruce Goff, Herb Greene and others at the University of Oklahoma in the 1950s and '60s. The exhibition is the centerpiece of an effort to document and share the influence of the pedagogy and creative practices of this original experiment.  Our current initiatives are centered around the exhibition, an accompanying scholarly catalog and symposium.

The American School newsletter aims to share updates on our work and offer friends, researchers and alumni opportunities to get involved in this important project. Please expect to find the newsletter in your inbox each month.
This grant will support the production of a 3D scan of Herb Greene's Prairie House. Look Magazine.
Exhibition Receives Grant From Ross Group Charitable Foundation

Dean Hans E. Butzer, with The University of Oklahoma College of Architecture, is incredibly pleased to announce a $25,000 grant from the Ross Group Charitable Foundation of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is the first major grant to support the American School's 2019 exhibition and its affiliated projects.
 
"Ross Group's support of the American School Exhibition is invaluable, and will provide our faculty and students with resources to prepare for the 2019 exhibition. We are grateful for their vision and support," Butzer said. "The American School Exhibition will highlight the rich history of architecture and design pioneered at the OU College of Architecture and that continues to shape our design pedagogy." 
 
Ross Group is an Oklahoma-based company specializing in development, engineering, and construction. It is a family-owned organization with a passion for delivering solutions to customers and the community. The Ross Group Charitable Foundation has a proven mission to support education, the communities in which they work, and other noteworthy causes through philanthropy.
If you would like to help support the American School exhibit, or if you have materials such as original drawings, models, or works of art, created by a student or alumnus of the OU College of Architecture under Bruce Goff or Herb Greene's leadership, please click  here.
The team explores the Tulsa Club, which is currently being restored by the Ross Group.
American School Team Tours Tulsa

OU alum Ted Reeds recently led American School research team members and friends on a whirlwind tour of Tulsa. The group visited a range of projects by Bruce Goff, including the McGregor House, the Riverside Studio and Boston Avenue Methodist Church, as well as projects by Blaine Imel, Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Ward.

If you have information about American School projects to share with the research team, click here.
The Outpost. Jones Studio. Eddie Jones, Principal.
Upcoming Events

"Architects of the American School" Symposium
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art Auditorium
Aug. 23, 2017

This August, the College of Architecture faculty and staff are excited to convene a focused conversation about the American School legacy. This symposium will feature lectures by award-winning architects, Donald MacDonald (B.Arch '62), who studied under Herb Greene; Eddie Jones, principal of Jones Studio Inc.; and Brian Phillips (Bs.Ed '94), principal of Interface Studio Architects. This event is the first of what will become a series of discussions on the concept of the American School at OU.

For more information about t his symposium, click here .
Bruce Goff's Pollock House. Photo by Luca Guido.
Exhibition Highlights

"The American School of Architecture"
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
Spring 2019

The centerpieces of the "The American School" exhibition will be original drawings and  newly constructed models of buildings by architects associated with the American School. While some of these buildings, such as Herb Greene's Prairie House, are well known to scholars and architects, many others, such as the Autumn House (San Francisco) by OU alumna Violeta Autumn or the Blizzard House project by Arn Henderson, are relatively unknown. A virtual reality model of the Bavinger House will allow visitors to experience this lost architectural treasure through digital historic preservation techniques. In addition to architectural projects, the exhibition will include original works of art by alumni such as Chayo Frank, as well as furniture, including a chair designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Price Tower in Bartlesville. These works will be complemented by video interviews of alumni, associates and patrons, including Bart Prince, Herb Greene, and Carolyn Price. A comprehensive online database, interactive digital timeline and map illustrating the key architects and their built legacy around the world will serve to frame and define the context and key figures of the American School.

For more information about the exhibition, contact Stephanie Pilat ( spilat@ou.edu).
Two architecture students work with a professor.
OU Western History Collection. 1948.
Back Story

The American School in Context
By Stephanie Pilat and Luca Guido,
Co-Curators of the American School exhibition 

"A new school, probably the only indigenous one in the United States" is how the architect Donald MacDonald once characterized the OU school of architecture that emerged in the postwar era.[1] At that time, architecture schools in the United States followed a curriculum inspired by either the French Beaux Arts school or the German Bauhaus school. On one hand, the French model centered on studies of classical principles of design and entailed meticulous copying of the great classical architecture of Greece and Rome. On the other hand, schools such as the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Harvard Graduate School of Design adapted the Bauhaus curriculum model-known for embracing industry and abstraction in art, architecture and design-to the American context. Only the OU College of Architecture stood apart from these two trends and developed an original and authentically American approach to architecture and pedagogy.

Under the leadership of Bruce Goff (1904-82), Herb Greene (b. 1929), E. Fay Jones (1921-2004), Mendel Glickman (1895-1967) and many others, OU faculty developed their own design curriculum that emphasized individual creativity and experimentation. The faculty rejected the rote copying of historical styles as well as the abstract minimalist approach popular elsewhere. Under Goff, who served as dean from 1947-55, and the faculty he recruited to OU, students were taught to look to sources beyond the accepted canon of Western architecture and to find inspiration in everyday objects, the natural landscape, and non-Western cultures such as the designs of Native American tribes. As MacDonald described, at OU there emerged "a truly American ethic, which is being formulated without the usual influence of the European or Asian architectural forms and methodologies common on the East and West coasts of the United States."[2] At OU, each student was encouraged to develop their own individual approach to design. In part, this rejection of existing pedagogical models in favor of experimentation reflected Goff's own training. He was never formally educated in architecture; rather he learned architecture by doing it, having started in practice at the age of 12.

The work of architects associated with the American School has been recognized around the world for its originality, organic forms and poetic connection to landscape. Students of the American School such as Herb Greene and Bart Prince went on to develop their own unprecedented approaches to design and teaching. The novel pedagogical approach employed at OU combined with the body of work of architects associated with it drew attention from around the world and praise from even the most skeptical architects and critics such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Italian historian Bruno Zevi. As a result of both the experimental pedagogy and the organic architecture that developed from OU, the Architecture Program at the University of Oklahoma has long been characterized as an outlier among its peers. It is the only original American School of Architecture.

[1] Donald MacDonald, "Preface," Architecture + Urbanism 81:11 (Nov. 1981):18.
[2] Ibid.

If you would like to learn more about the American School project, please contact Stephanie Pilat at ( spilat@ou.edu).
The American School of Architecture: Building on the Plains 
is made possible with support from: