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Bruce Goff: A prodigy of design born in Kansas

Geometric architect Bruce Goff
Geometric architect Bruce Goff

Bruce Goff (1904-1982)

Born in Alton, Kan., Bruce Goff was considered a child prodigy and began an apprenticeship at the Tulsa, Okla., architectural firm Rush, Endacott and Rush at the age of 12.

Goff quickly took over designing small commercial and residential projects and so impressed his employers that he became a partner at the age of 26. He went on to create many prominent examples of Art Deco architecture.

Considered inventive and iconoclastic, Goff was reportedly one of the few architects Frank Lloyd Wright believed to be creative. His avant-garde style is on prominent display at Kansas City’s Nicol House, which has Italian glass ashtrays embedded in the front door. Each room features a skylight and reflects the tastes of its original inhabitants, with bold colors and triangle-shaped windows.

In a career spanning more than 60 years, Goff designed and completed more than 150 buildings in 15 states. According to the Bruce Goff Archive at the Art Intensive of Chicago, the majority of his projects were private residences, along with commercial and civic buildings — and “in each of these designs, Goff’s sensitivity to client, site, space, and material set him apart from the mainstream.”