Percival Goodman: Architect, Planner, Teacher, Painter

Percival Goodman: Architect, Planner, Teacher, Painter, the first retrospective exhibition of the architect Percival Goodman, aims to both contextualize the architect's work within the modernist movement and to offer critical reflection on his sustained commitment to the power of architecture as a vehicle for social change.

Goodman—as architect, teacher, urban planner, artist and writer—had as a foundation underlying his work a commitment to community. His early projects for collective housing and his book Communitas (1947), written in collaboration with his brother Paul Goodman, attest to his radical social agenda which developed alongside his architectural practice. In a career that spanned more than sixty years, Goodman achieved renown as one of the most prolific synagogue architects in the United States and was instrumental in the development of a critical discourse around the building of modern religious architecture. In his efforts to establish an appropriate vocabulary for the modern synagogue, he synthesized abstract modern forms and traditional Jewish symbolism, creating a unique style that resonated with people struggling to maintain their religious community in an increasingly secularized culture. His innovative designs frequently included specially commissioned works by contemporary artists including Adolph Gottlieb, Seymour Lipton and Robert Motherwell.

The exhibition is largely drawn from the archive of Percival Goodman materials at Columbia University's Avery Fine Arts and Architectural Library, which is the major repository for materials relating to the architect's career. The curators have selected more than 170 architectural drawings and models, photographs, publications, and original artworks that span Goodman's eclectic projects.

In conjunction with the exhibition the gallery has published a 240 page exhibition catalogue with over 200 images, 20 in color. Several authors examine various aspects of Goodman's career: Kenneth Frampton writes on Goodman's place in American architecture of the 1930s, Taylor Stoehr on the Goodman brothers and Communitas and Robert Fishman on Goodman as a social thinker. In addition, there is a portfolio of images relating to Goodman’s synagogue architecture introduced by Kimberly Elman. A personal memoir by Naomi Goodman, Percival's wife and sometime collaborator, as well as short reflections by a number of Goodman's former students will also be included.

The exhibition and publication have been made possible, in part, with the support of Furthermore, a publication project of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, the Graham Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and an endowment established by Miriam and Ira D. Wallach.