Page C2.2 . 07 March 2001                     
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    Bruce Goff Comes to Rest Among Peers


    In Search of a Resting Place

    When Goff died in 1982 in Tyler, Texas at age 78, he had no immediate family to handle affairs. Instead, his ashes, along with his estate, came into the possession of wealthy art collector and Goff patron Joe Price, of Corona del Mar, California. Burial never occurred.

    Gustafson, now a senior associate at NBBJ in Seattle, had apprenticed to Goff in the late 1970s. Concerned that such an important architect had never been properly memorialized, Gustafson vowed in early 1999 to push for resolution.

    With his father, architect Wayne Gustafson, AIA of Montana, and colleagues from throughout the United States and around the world who support Goff's design legacy, Grant Gustafson initiated and sustained the lengthy effort.

    He prepared a 25-page proposal containing a design and a plan to inter the ashes in one of the country's oldest cemeteries, Graceland in Chicago. There, among many others, Louis Sullivan, Dankmar Adler, John Root, Marion Mahoney Griffin, Daniel Burnham, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe are laid to rest.

    Gustafson found a sponsor in Joe Price, got design approval from the cemetery review panel and several avid Goff followers, and traveled to Oklahoma, California, and Chicago to collect the ashes, approve the plot, and oversee fabrication of the marker.

    Support of various kinds came from the Friends of Kebyar, a nonprofit organization supporting the philosophy of Goff's work. The Friends of Kebyar meet about every five years and publish a journal documenting creative alternatives to the corporate and popular academic architecture featured in mainstream publications.

    Grant's volunteer endeavor came to a conclusion October 7, 2000 when Goff's ashes were finally buried, with a ceremony at the cemetery attended by some 50 people. The burial plot occupies a highly visible spot, near the lake and not far from van der Rohe.

    A Marker of Honor

    The Goff marker, which Gustafson designed, is a triangular piece of cast bronze set on a polished jet black granite base. Unique to the design is a sparkling chunk of blue glass cullet salvaged from the tragically burned Price house in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

    The metal, glass, and stone reflect the light, always an essential element of Goff's architecture. The marker reads: "Bruce Goff Architect 1904-1982" in a handmade typeface which Goff often used on his drawings.

    Chicago, the historic center of significant Midwestern American architecture, offers a fitting location for Goff's repose. He had practiced and taught in Chicago, also the site of one his best extant buildings, the Ford house.

    The Chicago Art Institute has all of Goff's drawings, his 700 Japanese prints, and personal effects. The institute houses a center for the study of Bruce Goff and in 1995 curated a retrospective of his work.

    With his effort now a gratifying memory, Gustafson recalls its most difficult aspects: "Not knowing how we'd pay for it, where to inter, exactly where the ashes were, who would support the initiative, and the intimidating force of designing a famous designer's grave all fell away over time. Heavenly karma was at work, and it was a fantastic lesson in the use of just trying."

    Marga Rose Hancock, Hon. AIA, is executive vice president of AIA Seattle.



    ArchWeek Photo

    The Price Studio, "Shinenkan," Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 1957.
    Photo: Robert Alan Bowlby

    ArchWeek Photo

    The Price Studio.
    Photo: Robert Alan Bowlby

    ArchWeek Photo

    Japanese Art wing at the Los Angeles County Art Museum.
    Photo: Robert Alan Bowlby

    ArchWeek Photo

    Japanese Art wing at the Los Angeles County Art Museum.
    Photo: Robert Alan Bowlby

    ArchWeek Photo

    Gutman House, Gulfport, Mississippi, 1958.
    Photo: Robert Alan Bowlby

    ArchWeek Photo

    Gutman House plan.
    Image: Bruce Goff

    ArchWeek Photo

    Duncan/Etzkorn House, Cobden, Illinois, 1965.
    Photo: Tom Arlin Dean

    ArchWeek Photo

    Bruce Goff's memorial marker. The bronze cap will turn green over time. The base is black granite. The glass cullet is from the ruins of the Price house.
    Photo: James Schildroth


    Click on thumbnail images
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