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Opinion: Why Michael Graves Should Have Won the Pritzker

In March of this year, two of the world’s great architects died in the same week. The coincidence was unusual not because of the similarities between these two men - the advanced stage of their careers, their age and relative success - but because of the marked differences. In the few days between their mutual passing, one of the two was awarded architecture’s highest medal, the Pritzker Prize. This year’s winner, Frei Otto, had been notified of his triumph in the months prior to his death. Someone you might call his alter ego – stylistically that is – the late, great Michael Graves, died shortly after the prize was awarded to Otto.

Otto was a leading light of a particular strain of European modernism, whose most lauded works were mainly completed in his youth; on the other side of the pond, Michael Graves ran a busy commercial practice with more than 350 completed buildings, but was reviled by some for his revisionist, classical style.

Michael Graves' Denver Central Library. Image © Michael Graves Michael Graves' St. Coletta School. Image © Michael Graves Michael Graves' Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World. Image © James Cornetet - critiquethis.us Michael Graves' Portland Building. Image © Flickr user camknows

Metropolis Magazine Collects Tributes to Michael Graves

In some exceptional cases, an architect can be just as monumental as the buildings they design. Michael Graves, who passed away in March, certainly had a huge influence over the architecture of the late 20th century, with works ranging from the geometric icons of early post-modernism such as the Portland Building, to the slightly more staid Denver Central Library, to the outlandish kitsch of his Swan and Dolphin resorts for Disney. Though his death brought well-deserved attention to his work, it's just as important to remember Graves as a person, and the influence he had on people throughout his lifetime. As such, Metropolis Magazine has brought together a group of Graves' friends, colleagues and collaborators to remember Michael Graves.

http://www.archdaily.com/407522/ad-classics-the-portland-building-michael-graves/. Image © Wikimedia user Steve Morgan http://www.archdaily.com/64270/ad-classics-walt-disney-world-swan-and-dolphin-resort-michael-graves/. Image © Flickr user Jeff B. © Michael Graves & Associates © Michael Graves & Associates

Brooklyn Academy of Music Showcases 5 Murals by Michael Graves

Brooklyn Academy of Music is showcasing five murals by the late Michael Graves as part of the institution's permanent visual art collection. All completed in 1974, the paintings were originally commissioned by Charles Gwathmey - one of the New York Five, along with Graves. And, as the New York Times reports, their "heightened use of color and ornamentation" portray a "general shift away from minimalism." Read more about the murals, here

Michael Graves and MOS Architects Win Cooper Hewitt National Design Award

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has announced the winners of its 2015 National Design Award. Taking top honors, the late Michael Graves has been honored with the "Lifetime Achievement" award for "broadening the role of architects and raising public interest in good design as essential to the quality of everyday life."

MOS Architects was also selected to receive the "Architecture Design" award. The New York-based studio, founded by principals Hilary Sample and Michael Meredith in 2005, was lauded by the jury for their "academic research [that] occurs in parallel to the real-world constraints and contingencies of practice."

"A Joy of Things": The Architecture World Remembers Michael Graves

This past Thursday Michael Graves, the famed member of the New York Five and one of the Postmodern movement's great icons, passed away at age 80. With a legacy spanning more than 350 buildings and 2,000 product designs for companies like Alessi, Target and J.C. Penney, Graves will be remembered as a prolific designer, but for many within the profession his 50-year career will be memorable for so much more. Since news of Graves' death broke on Thursday, tributes have been posted all around the internet, starting with his company's official statement which said:

"Since founding the firm in 1964, Michael transformed the role of architects and designers, and even the place of design in our everyday lives. For those of us who had the opportunity to work closely with Michael, we knew him as an extraordinary designer, teacher, mentor and friend. For the countless students that he taught for more than 40 years, Michael was an inspiring professor who encouraged everyone to find their unique design voice."

Read on after the break for more reactions and tributes to Michael Graves.

Michael Graves Dies at 80

Michael Graves died Thursday at the age of 80. Famous for his bold, symbolic references to classical architecture and his use of geometry, Graves is also known as one of the New York Five. His work bridged the abstraction of Modernism and the Postmodernism of the current era.

“No one has made a bigger impact on the world of architecture, certainly from Mercer County, than Michael Graves," Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said. "Some people think architects are just people who draw up buildings. They are artists in themselves, and Michael was clearly an artist. He will be greatly missed by the Mercer County community."

A statement from his practice and an interview with Graves, after the break.

Democratizing Design: Michael Graves' Legacy On Display in the "Past as Prologue" Exhibition

On show until April 5th at the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey, Michael Graves: Past as Prologue celebrates the fifty-year career of one of the United States' best-known and prolific architects. Graves is known for his unapologetic postmodernism which often divides opinion the profession. However in this review of the exhibition, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Shape Shifter," Samuel Medina finds that while it is easy to criticize in Graves' design style, it is hard to find fault with the noble intentions underlying his work.

“It’s been fifty years of more is more,” says Karen Nichols, a principal of Michael Graves & Associates, reiterating an aphorism Graves has taken a liking to in recent years. She is standing in front of an exhibition board in the retrospective, Michael Graves: Past as Prologue, which is currently on show at the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey. Nichols joined the firm in 1977, precisely the time when her employer made the fateful and rather lucrative pivot towards Postmodernism. The text on the exhibition wall behind her pinpoints The Big Break to the same year, depicting it with two like-minded projects. The first is the built Plocek House (1977), which originated the hide-the-keystone game Graves has been playing ever since. The other, the unrealized scheme for the Fargo-Moorhead Cultural Center Bridge (1977–1978), intended to enlighten the twin midwestern communities with a dose of the Enlightenment architect Claude Nicolas Ledoux’s architecture parlante.

To hear Nichols (and Graves) tell it now, it’s as if Graves were always more Venturian than Venturi, from his earliest neo-Corbusian villas, up through the pedimented temple he built for Disney in 1988. The truth is, Graves—the Cubist, the classicist, and the caricaturist—has always had a hard time saying “No.”

The Portland Building Won’t be Demolished, says Michael Graves

The Portland Building will be saved from the wrecking ball and undergo renovation, Michael Graves, the architect behind the postmodern masterpiece, told A/N blog. “It’s going to be saved,” Graves said to AN. “They told me… They said they are saving the building and not only that but we want you to sit on a committee for the redesign. I would imagine in the next year we’ll do something.” 

In Honor of Michael Graves, The Architectural League Revisits 200 Years of Drawing

With their "Past as Prologue" symposium - a day of lectures celebrating fifty years of Michael Graves' career - approaching tomorrow, the Architectural League of New York is taking a look back at one of its seminal exhibitions which heavily featured Graves' work. When "200 Years of American Architectural Drawing" launched in 1977, New York Times critic Ada Louise Huxtable said "By any definition... a major show," adding "here is architecture as it comes straight from the mind and the eye and the heart, before the spoilers get to it." In memory of the show, the Architectural League has published a selection of essays and images from the accompanying book, including the work of Graves, Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk and Richard Meier.

Michael Graves School of Architecture to Open in 2015

Kean University has announced plans to open a new architecture school based on the design philosophy of Michael Graves. Following the footsteps of a man who laments the “loss of drawing,” the new Michael Graves School of Architecture will prioritize hand drawings as a key to design process. 

“In our technologically savvy world, to this day, Michael Graves’ philosophy is to draw by hand first so that the students see, ‘feel’ and experience the new building spatially. Then, only after the drawing is complete will the students transfer the design to a computer so that the computer becomes an execution tool, not an ideation tool,” describes acting dean and former student of Graves, David Mohney.

Michael Graves Defends the Portland Building from Demolition Threats

Last week, Michael Graves attended a public conversation with Randy Gragg, director of The University of Oregon's John Yeon Center to discuss the Portland Building, America's first postmodern building. The discussion centered around the famed, 1980s building’s many problems - “dark, leaky and claustrophobic” interiors,” pedestrian-unfriendly parking garage, and more - asking Graves for his advice on whether the city should update it or tear it down. His response, “The whole idea of tearing the building down, it's like killing a child… I don't know how to react to that.” Read all of Graves’ responses to tenant complaints here on the Oregon Live.

Michael Graves 50 Year Retrospective to Open in October

An exhibition celebrating one of North America's foremost postmodern architects will open this October, marking 50 years of Michael Graves' practice. Past as Prologue maps the evolution of Graves' work in architecture and product design through an array of media including sculpture, painting, furniture, drawings and models. The comprehensive exhibition will begin with Graves' work from 1964 and conclude with works currently in progress. The exhibition will be hosted by Grounds for Sculpture with a mission to provide insight into the five-decade progression of Graves' unique design process. More on the exhibition after the break.

Happy Birthday Michael Graves

Today is the 80th birthday of renowned architect Michael Graves.  Famous for his bold, symbolic references to classical architecture and his use of geometry, Graves is also known as one of the New York Five. His work bridged the abstraction of Modernism and the Postmodernism of the current era.

Graves started his own practice in 1964 in Princeton, New Jersey, and has taught at Princeton’s school of architecture for more than 40 years.  A prolific architect, Graves has also met with considerable success as an industrial designer, producing products for companies such as Target and Black & Decker. He is highly decorated, having won such prestigious honors as the Nation Medal of the Arts (1999), the AIA Gold Medal (2001), and the Driehaus Prize for Classical Architecture (2012).  On the anniversary of his birth, we invite you to look over our collection of some of his best work and check out our video interview with him, after the break.

AD Classics: Denver Central Library / Michael Graves & Associates. Image © Michael Graves © Flickr - User: Paul Gowder. ImageAD Classics: Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort / Michael Graves AD Classics: St. Coletta School / Michael Graves. Image © Michael Graves Photo by flickr.com/photos/camknows. ImageAD Classics: The Portland Building / Michael Graves

The Portland Problem: $95 Million for a Hated Building?

In a provocative article, The Atlantic Cities explores the dilemma which Portland currently finds itself in: the Michael Graves-designed Portland Building, one of the most important examples of early postmodernism, requires renovation work to the tune of $95 million; unfortunately, most residents of Portland "really, really hate" the building - as they have since it was constructed in 1983. Should the city spend so much money renovating a building which is unpopular, dysfunctional and poorly built just because of its cultural significance? Read the original article for more.

Dwell on Design 2013

Dwell on Design, America’s largest modern design event, returns to the Los Angeles Convention Center, June 21-23, 2013. DOD reimagines the trade show experience by transforming 200,000 square feet of concrete into a design incubator where prefab comes to life and design luminaires debate the issues of today. With more than 400 exhibitors, 200 speakers, 2000 products and an expected 30,000 attendees, DOD has become the largest design event in the US, showing how influential design is in every aspect of our modern world. Dwell is proud to announce The Lincoln Motor Company as the Presenting Auto sponsor, Design Partner jcpenney and Industry Partner The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). The event is produced by Dwell Media.

More information, including keynote speakers, the 2013 highlights and a special promo code for ArchDaily readers after the break.

Obama Appoints Michael Graves to Key Administration Post

© Michael Graves & Associates
© Michael Graves & Associates

Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint five individuals to key Administration posts, including architecture’s very own Michael Graves, stating: “These fine public servants both bring a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their new roles.  Our nation will be well-served by these individuals, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

The five individuals include: 

  • Vinton G. Cerf - Member, National Science Board, National Science Foundation
  • Marta Araoz de la Torre - Member, Cultural Property Advisory Committee
  • Michael Graves - Member, Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
  • Laurie Leshin - Member, Advisory Board of the National Air and Space Museum
  • Lynne Sebastian - Member, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

The Glass House: "Conversations in Context"

The Glass House just concluded their second annual Conversations in Context, which presents visitors with the opportunity to join in a weekly evening tour and intimate conversation with industry leaders, including Robert A.M. Stern, Michael Graves, and more.

Since the 1940s, The Glass House has served as a place of inspiration, education and conversation across creative disciplines. Its 49-acre landscape, 14 architectural structures and world-class art collection continue to draw members of an international creative community to participate in its rich story. Conversations in Context continues Philip Johnson’s legacy of using the Glass House as a place to conduct ongoing seminars with architecture students and present emerging and established architects the opportunity to discuss the current state of the industry.

The video above features Architect, critic, and historian Kenneth Frampton, along with Dean Mark Wigley from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Follow us after the break for a few of our favorite conversations from this year’s series.

Event: Michael Graves to lecture at Notre Dame

If you’re in the South Bend, Indiana, area, mark your calendars! A week from today, the famed architect and designer Michael Graves will present his lecture “A Grand Tour” at the University of Notre Dame. The lecture will recount his journey, once considered obligatory for a young architect, exploring the great monuments of Europe. As a recipient of the prestigious Prix de Rome, Graves traveled through Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain, England, Germany, and France, studying and recording the masterworks of both ancient and modern architecture. This year, the University of Notre Dame awarded Graves with the Richard H. Driehaus Prize, honoring his lifetime contributions to classical and traditional architecture in the modern world. Read all about his nomination here and watch an exclusive ArchDaily interview with the legend here.