Bruce Goff's Ledbetter House
I can’t look at a Bruce Goff building without thinking of LSD. The great mid-century modernist hit his prime long before the consciousness-altering 1960s, but his hallucinatory designs surely presaged the radical open-mindedness of that era. To be honest, Goff’s work has never been entirely my cup of tea, but he was clearly some kind of genius. I gained some insight on the man from the Phoenix architect Will Bruder, who named Goff as one of his greatest influences.
Goff’s work exemplifies the outer reaches of the expansive postwar American mood. It’s no coincidence that his buildings—which evoke starships or colonies on distant planets—came along just as human beings made their first voyages into outer space. Their exuberance and inventiveness, their embrace of advanced structural systems, eccentric geometries, and unconventional materials, reflect a culture secure enough in itself to make big gestures and take big risks. How can one look at them without feeling some nostalgia for that moment? –B.D.S.