House & Home

Bruce Goff’s octagonal Nicol House defined postmodern before postmodernism

At dusk, the home sparkles thanks to the colorful Murano blown glass ashtrays in the front door and 32 triangle-shaped windows. Goff also incorporated tiny craft mirror tiles just under the eaves.
At dusk, the home sparkles thanks to the colorful Murano blown glass ashtrays in the front door and 32 triangle-shaped windows. Goff also incorporated tiny craft mirror tiles just under the eaves. Special to The Star

Location: Crestwood neighborhood, Kansas City

Details: 3,000 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, a library, dining room, kitchen, media room and drum room surround the living room, which features a sunken pit with a water and fire fountain.

Current owner: Rod Parks

Architectural notes: Betty and James Nicol heard Bruce Goff lecture at the Kansas City Art Institute and were so impressed that they hired him on the spot to design a home for them. It was completed in 1964.

In 2009, Rod Parks, owner of Retro Inferno, a Crossroads boutique that sells high-end vintage furniture, bought the home.

Goff cut large octagonal windows into the home’s two 6-foot wide doors on the north and west sides and used the leftover wood to create tables. The doors pivot on center rods, providing cross ventilation when open.

Goff’s style is known as organic architecture, but Parks says he was so ahead of his time that he was designing postmodern before the word postmodern existed.

Rod Parks, owner of the home designed by architect Bruce Goff (and Retro Inferno), talks about preserving the integrity of his home's original design.

“He wasn’t afraid of ornamentation, he wasn’t into austerity, but he was still into form and function,” Parks says.

Parks likens maintaining the home to owning a sports car.

“You can always get it fixed, but the parts are expensive and it’s usually not something many people have done,” he said. “How many people have replaced triangle windows?”

There’s also a hexagonal outdoor swimming pool that’s original to the home. It features a red metal sculpture that was once part of Shin’en Kan, a Goff home in Bartlesville, Okla., destroyed by arson in 1996.

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