Bavinger House History
The Bavinger House is a historic house in Norman, Oklahoma. It was designed by American architect Bruce Goff and built in 1955 for academic couple Eugene Bavinger and Nancy Bavinger. The house is an example of organic architecture, which is based on the principle that a building should be integrated with its natural surroundings. The house is now recognized as one of the fifteen most important architectural designs in the United States
About The Architect – Bruce Goff
Bruce Alonzo Goff (1904-1982) was an American architect, distinguished by his use of organic forms and eccentric, designed spaces. He has been a major influence on later architects, including Frank Gehry and Rem Koolhaas. Goff’s works are considered Midwestern regionalist architecture.
A number of Goff’s buildings have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. His Bavinger House was designated a National Historic Landmark in May 1997, and is one of only twenty-three post-World War II residences to earn that distinction. The Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma also earned landmark status in 2003.
The Bavinger House Architectural Highlights
The Bavinger House was designed with the intention of reflecting nature, and it does so through its organic shape. The house is constructed from a multitude of different materials, including concrete, wood, brick, glass and metal. The main structure of the home is made from concrete forms that were placed into the ground and poured in place. This was a unique method of construction in the 1950s and allowed for an incredibly sturdy foundation.
The exterior walls are covered in panels of glass that let in natural light while also providing views of the surrounding woods. These walls are supported by a system of steel beams that are attached to the concrete forms beneath them. The roof is made from metal panels that were cut to fit together like a puzzle, allowing rainwater to flow down and into a series of gutters around the perimeter of the home.
The Bavinger House Exterior
As one approaches the house, the view is stunning. The roof line begins at ground level and spirals upward to a peak. The main entrance is to the right of the lowest roof level and down some steps. Once you descend the entry steps, you find an amazing patio area. The window at the top of the tower was Gene’s studio and led to the suspension bridge. The suspension bridge is accessed from an upper level of the home.
The Bavinger House Interior
The Bavinger House was heated with these stoves. Keep in mind that the house was built in a rural area, and utility services were not widely available in 1950. Notice the recessed area behind the stove. There used to be a stream that ran through the house, but it was dammed up at some point.
The large, suspended ‘saucer’-shaped object you see is the living room. Above the living room, you can see a bit of another ‘saucer’, which was the Bavinger’s master bedroom. The drapery panels that you can observe were used for privacy. The large, round tubular structure that you see was a closet for the master bedroom. It’s an interesting concept. Inside the tube, the hanging apparatus is actually a ‘lazy susan’. The closet rack rotates and provides quite a bit of storage.
The Bavinger House Today
The house was unoccupied for more than ten years and fell into a state of disrepair before it was reported in 2008 that renovation efforts would begin with the intention of opening it back up for tours. However, fundraising for these efforts ran into difficulties. The house was damaged, with its central spire left broken at a 45-degree angle, after a powerful windstorm swept through in June 2011.
The official website for the house stated that it “will not be able to re-open”, which was later changed to “Closed Permanently”, and in August 2012 further edited to say “The House will never return under its current political situation”. The official website was taken offline in August, 2011, and its domain license was allowed to expire.
The house was demolished in April 2016, leaving only a vacant lot, as confirmed by the president of the Bruce Goff-focused preservation organization Friends of Kebyar.