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Interdisciplinary OU Team Launches American School Online Architecture Database With Support From National Endowment for the Arts

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April 20, 2021

Interdisciplinary OU Team Launches American School Online Architecture Database With Support From National Endowment for the Arts

Bruce Goff with students at the University of Oklahoma
Bruce Goff with students at the University of Oklahoma

An interdisciplinary team of University of Oklahoma faculty and staff from the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture, University Libraries and the Office of Digital Learning recently launched an interactive database on the American School of Architecture with the assistance of an $20,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The American School of Architecture: An Interactive Database presents an interactive illustration of the history of the American School of Architecture developed at OU in the 1950s and ’60s under the leadership of Bruce Goff, Herb Greene and others,” said Angela M. Person, director of research initiatives and strategic planning in the College of Architecture and a member of the team that created the database. Other team members on the grant were Stephanie Pilat, director of the Division of Architecture, and John Stewart, assistant director, Office of Digital Learning.

By opening the database to the general public, anyone who is interested in architecture or design will be able to access it freely to learn more about the American School. Conversely, anyone can share biographies, drawings and/or archival images to the database.

The American School of Architecture was described by architect Donald MacDonald as “A new school, probably the only indigenous one to the United States.” During the 1950s and ’60s, the American School was developed and the traditional curriculum inspired by either the French Beaux-Arts or German Bauhaus schools was put to the side as pioneers of the American School – including Goff, Greene, Elizabeth Bauer Mock and other OU faculty – paved the way for the American architects of today.

Herb Greene, Prairie House, Norman, Oklahoma, 1960-61
Herb Greene, Prairie House, Norman, Oklahoma, 1960-61

“The partnership between the College of Architecture and the University Libraries has created a collection that documents national and international impacts of the American School architects,” said Bridget Burke, who recently served as associate dean for Special Collections at OU Libraries. “To receive funding from the National Endowment for the Arts is an affirmation of the significance of the project and recognizes that OU is building a resource of national importance and visibility.”

“The American School Project is documenting, preserving and sharing the history of the original approach to design that emerged at the University of Oklahoma in the mid-century,” Pilat said. “Support from the NEA ensures this important legacy will be accessible to a broad audience around the world.”

“Creating a digital database for the American School Project opens up the wonderful archives here at the University of Oklahoma,” Stewart said. “This grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and our digital infrastructure will allow us to share how OU shaped cultural heritage in Oklahoma and across the world.”

Also contributing to the project were Luca Guido, former OU visiting assistant professor (now an independent scholar in Italy); John King, undergraduate academic assistant, College of Architecture Dean’s Office; Bridget Burke, former associate dean, OU Libraries (now an independent scholar); Bailey Hoffner, metadata and collections management archivist, Special Collections, OU Libraries; and Matt Stock, fine and applied arts librarian.

Learn more about the project at OU Gibbs College of Architecture.

Above: John Casper, Atomic Power Station, ca. 1960. Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture Collection, American School Archive, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
Above: John Casper, Atomic Power Station, ca. 1960. Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture Collection, American School Archive, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
Above: Robert L. Faust, Auto Service Station, ca. 1953. Robert Faust Collection, American School Archive, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
Above: Robert L. Faust, Auto Service Station, ca. 1953. Robert Faust Collection, American School Archive, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
Above: Ernest Burden, An Architect’s Office, 1957. Ernest Burden Collection, American School Archive, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
Above: Ernest Burden, An Architect’s Office, 1957. Ernest Burden Collection, American School Archive, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
Above: Robert L. Faust, Orchestration of Materials, Fourth Year Studio (Architecture 273) Assignment, Bruce Goff, Instructor, ca. 1954. Robert Faust Collection, American School Archive, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
Above: Robert L. Faust, Orchestration of Materials, Fourth Year Studio (Architecture 273) Assignment, Bruce Goff, Instructor, ca. 1954. Robert Faust Collection, American School Archive, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
Above: Chayo Frank, AmerTec Building, Hialeah, Florida, 1967. Bob Bowlby Collection, American School Archive, University of Oklahoma Libraries.
Above: Chayo Frank, AmerTec Building, Hialeah, Florida, 1967. Bob Bowlby Collection, American School Archive, University of Oklahoma Libraries.