The American School Newsletter
June 2017
In 2019, an exhibition titled "The American School of Architecture" 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 at the beginning of each month.
Line forms outside Bruce Goff's
 Ledbetter House  in Norman.  Life Magazine.
Exhibition Highlights

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

The centerpieces of the "The American School of Architecture" 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, Carolyn Price and more. 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 (
Donald MacDonald. B.Arch. Class of 1962.
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 is excited to convene a focused conversation about the American School legacy. This symposium will feature lectures by Donald MacDonald (B.Arch '62), who studied under Herb Greene; Eddie Jones, who apprenticed with Bruce Goff and Frank Lloyd Wright; and Brian Phillips (Bs.Ed '94), award-winning 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 this symposium, contact Angela Person (
Recent Publications

Part biography of a well-known architect, part analysis of Goff's work, Bruce Goff: Architecture of Discipline in Freedom (2017) is also a finely woven tapestry of information and interpretation that encompasses the ideas and experiences that shaped Goff's artistic vision over his lifetime. Based on scores of interviews with Goff's associates and former students, as well as author Arn Henderson's (B.Arch '61) firsthand study of Goff's extant buildings, this volume deepens our appreciation of the great architect's lasting legacy.

Bruce Goff: Architecture of Discipline in Freedom 
is available for purchase
here .
Erik Baker (Development Assoc.),  Chayo Frank (B.Arch '67),  and  Dean Hans E. Butzer.
Stories of the American School

We are currently interviewing alumni and friends of the OU Architecture program during Bruce Goff and Herb Greene's tenure at the school. Recently, we had the pleasure of interviewing alumnus Chayo Frank (B.Arch '67) at his home in Miami. Chayo told the story of Morris Lapidus, father of the "Miami Modern" movement, recommending to his father that Chayo study under Bruce Goff at the University of Oklahoma. Once at OU, Chayo found that, with Goff, "you never made a mistake."

If you have a story to share with the American School team, click here.
Three-dimensional printed prototype of the
Bavinger House's famous stone spiral.
Remembering the Bavinger House

College of Architecture professor Elizabeth Pober and doctoral student Ken Marold are currently working with undergraduate students to create both virtual reality and three-dimensional printed models of Bruce Goff's Bavinger House. The house, designed by Bruce Goff and built by students and faculty in Norman in 1955, was destroyed by its current owner in 2011. Pober's project aims to digitally preserve the magical and wholly unique experience of the Bavinger House in the best ways we can. These models will be incorporated into "The American School of Architecture" exhibition.

If you are interested in supporting the creation of additional three-dimensional models of American School projects, contact Erik Baker at (
Dean Hans E. Butzer and Herb Greene.
Herb Greene Visits OU

Beloved architect, artist and educator Herb Greene, who studied under Bruce Goff and later taught at OU, recently visited the College of Architecture. During his time here, he reflected on his famous "Prairie House" project and his career uniting art and architecture.

A video of Herb's talk is available  here.
Select pieces from the "Bruce Goff"
file in the MacDonald Collection.
MacDonald Donates Collection

Donald MacDonald (B.Arch '62) recently donated over 30 files to the American School Archive, currently housed in the OU College of Architecture. These files document the careers and work of dozens of American School educators, alumni, and friends through letters, slides, photographs, and drawings. MacDonald assembled this body of work when he edited a special issue of the international architecture journal,  A+U, titled "The American School of Architecture," in November 1981. Among those included in this collection are Bruce Goff, Bart Prince, Arthur Dyson, John Hurtig, G.K. "Mickey" Meunnig, Robert "Bob" Bowlby, Varouj Hairabedian and William "Bill" Murphy.

If you would like to contribute materials to the American School exhibit, 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.
Two architecture students  work on a model. 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 (
The University of Oklahoma | College of Architecture |