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Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Bavinger House


I am linking my post to Oh, the PLACES I've Been. The Bavinger House by Bruce Goff takes 'bringing the outside in' to a new level...and it was built in the 1950's.  I hope that you enjoy it.  Thank you to "The Tablescaper" for hosting this delightful meme.

Daddy was a new member of the faculty in the Oklahoma University School of Architecture in 1950.  The head of the architecture department was Bruce Goff, Frank Lloyd Wright's famous protege.  Goff designed The Bavinger House, built outside of Norman, Oklahoma.  The house was physically built, mostly on the weekends, by Goff, Bavinger, and a number of faculty and students from the university, including my daddy, from 1950, to 1955.  I remember weekends spent driving out to the house to take lunch to daddy and to see the project in process.  Gene and Nancy Bavinger were family friends. The Bavinger's older son, Bill, was a year younger than I.  Bill was one of my sister's best friends, and we spent many great times at the Bavinger House as children and teenagers.  The house is now recognized as one of the fifteen most important architectural designs in the United States.  For a time, it was opened to the public for visits by Bob Bavinger, Nancy and Gene's younger son.  I stopped by to revisit some old memories, and I couldn't resist taking some photos.  I only had my iPhone, so I hope that the images translate adequately.  I thought that you might enjoy a short tour.    



The view as one approaches the house is pretty amazing.  The roof line starts at ground level and spirals to a peak.  It always made me think of a stone tower surrounded by a sweeping sail.  The main  entrance is to the right of the lowest roof level and down some steps.  The materials are mostly native stones and melted down 'junk glass.'  It always reminded me of the green glass in old Coke bottles.  I can still picture my daddy and others carrying those stones and glass pieces and placing them to create this incredible structure.

After descending the entry steps, the first thing one discovers is this stunningly beautiful patio area.  Can you see the suspension bridge laid through the trees in the upper left of the picture?

The suspension bridge is accessed from within an upper level of the home.  As children we used to scamper across the bridge, which hangs above a deep ravine, to visit the Wilson House, on the other side.  The bridge is actually quite narrow, and I don't think that I would venture out on it now.

Can you see the top of the giant bronze pot just to the right of the patio trees? It's an outdoor fireplace, found on a lower level of the patio.  The table and chairs are original to the home, as are the sculptures.  

This view looks back toward the front door.  This interior wall is built below ground.  Remember the beginning of the roof, almost at ground level?  That's the location of this area.  The junk glass is beautiful as it reflects the sunlight.  There used to be a profusion of gorgeous orchids growing out of the walls.  Bob Bavinger hopes to replant them at some point.  Pretty amazing, right?
The Bavinger House was heated with these stoves; remember that the house was built in the countryside, and there was a minimum of utility service available in 1950.  Behind the stove, notice the recessed area beyond the rock.  There used to be a 'creek' that ran through the house.  It was dammed up at some point.  The large suspended 'saucer' that you see is the living room.  Above the living room, you can see a bit of another 'saucer' that was the Bavinger's master bedroom.  The drapery panels that you can observe could be drawn for privacy.  The large round tubular structure that you see is 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.

From the living room pod, one can see the Master Bedroom pod and above that Bill Bavinger's bedroom.  Follow the stairs higher, and you would reach Gene Bavinger's studio.  In later years, the studio became Bill's bedroom, to make room for younger brother, Bob.  Gene built a new studio in another building on the property.



The interior of the living room pod was in essence a 'sunken living room.  The seating was a built-in part of the pod.  Looking beyond the pod, you can see the huge round table that makes up the dining room.  It has built in seating, and it also rotates.  Originally the dining table had a glass top, but I really like the wood.

Here's a close-up of the 'lazy susan' dining table.  Can you see the giant 'shopping bag' sitting next to the stove?  Nancy Bavinger was a clay artist, and she designed a variety of clay 'shopping bags.' They can be seen displayed throughout the home.

A pair of Nancy's shopping bags, tucked in a niche.

More of Nancy's bags, sitting adjacent to the kitchen, which is incredibly small by today's standards.

More bags, and here you can catch a glimpse of the pond and another stove.

The window at the top of the tower was Gene's studio and housed the exit to the suspension bridge.  Quite a house! 

10 comments:

Pondside said...

What an incredible structure! I can't help but wonder how comfortable it would have been. We all have such different ideas of comfort, and mine would involve more privacy. I can just imagine what a wonder this house must have been when first built!

KathyB. said...

Amazing creativity. Did they live in the house long? I ponder the mind that came up with this house.
Did your father work on this house often?

I wonder how it would be to actually live there. Boy, this house intrigues me.

Rettabug said...

How utterly unique! These innovators were far ahead of their time & so creative. It is like they just let their imaginations run wild.

The Frank Loyd Wright home, 'Falling Waters', isn't too far from us & I've always wanted to tour it.
This was a very interesting post, Cherry Kay...thank you for sharing your family's connection to this wonderful place.

xinex said...

What an interesting and unique house, Cherry Kay. Thanks for sharing it with us.....Christine

The Tablescaper said...

So neat! I never knew such a place existed. How neat that you were there during it's incarnation.

Thanks for being a part of "Oh, the places I've been!". Looking forward to having you be a regular contributor.

- The Tablescaper

Sarah said...

Cherry Kay, this is an amazing home. How special that your dad was involved with this project and that it is one of the 15 most important architectural designs in the US. Thanks for taking us along to this incredible structure. ~ Sarah

william said...

Dear Cherry Kay, I was just fascinated by this post. I grew up near Kansas City and was familiar with the Nicol House in Kansas City, which Mr. Goff also designed. I believe the Nicol House was decidedly more formal than the Bavinger House. It was designed about 10-15 years later, in the mid-60's. There was an article about the Nicol House in the NY Times not long ago. Thank you for this interesting post.
Francie

Entertaining Women said...

Kathy B. The Bavinger's lived in the house almost their entire life. Gene died some years before Nancy passed away. Daddy spent many weekends building the home from 1950 - 1955, when it was completed. Cherry Kay

Marlis said...

I am so glad you shared this!!! When I lived in Norman, 1973, we had driven by the place and was sooo curious about the inside. It's just fabulous. Loved your photos. Not sure if I am cut out for pods!! Have a blessed week.. xo marlis

Alycia Nichols said...

So your first sentence...right out of the starting gate (I'm talkin' like it's Derby Day already!!!). Anyway, your very 1st sentence: "Several tables of eight were located in the living room." Do you KNOW what that does to a person who lives in a dinky little house like mine??!??!?! My heart rejoiced, and then it sank, and then it rejoiced again, and then it sank. My heart got more exercise going up and down than the rest of my body has seen all it's natural life!!!!!! And she still had a ton of furniture in there!!! Mercy, mercy me. (Fanning myself) This is SOME living room! I remember the party from last year, but I somehow don't recall the living room being THAT big!!! (I'm not EVEN gonna talk about that big ol' dining room set for 40!!!)

Anyhooooooo....LOVED the logo carved into the melon. How creative! All sorts of prettily carved melons going on! Your hosts' veranda is absolutely gorgeous and - like the rooms inside - QUITE spacious. Great idea to put the pillows along the ledge of the fireplace for additional comfy seating. I like the color out there, too. FABULOUS fresco on the powder room wall!!!

The salad looked fantastic, so I have no doubt that the rest of the food was equally to-die-for. What a great event! Thanks for letting us take a little peek into the kids' room, too. Very sweet! Have a great week, and happy ironing!!!