Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Michael Graves

I am a big fan of Michael Graves. I own both the teapot and the wooden cooking spoon he designed for Target. Although I recognize why many do not like his work (it is overly playful and showy), I think he does an excellent job of making aesthetically appealing buildings in the Postmodern genre that still have many of my favorite modern elements. Although he has a recognizable style, each building is unique in its environment. Graves is particularly interesting because he relies so heavily on hand sketches and architectural renderings in water colors for his projects. He has produced some truly remarkable pictures, including ones of the Swan and Dolphin Hotels he designed for Walt Disney World in 1990. 

Graves was born July 9, 1934 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He attended University of Cincinnati and got his master’s degree from Harvard University. In 1964, Graves founded his own practice in Princeton, New Jersey. Concurrently he has taught at Princeton University as Robert Schirmer Professor of Architecture, Emeritus. His company, Michael Graves & Associates has been highly successful, designing not only commercial and residential buildings but also interior design objects such as kitchen appliances and furniture.

Graves is considered one of The New York Five. This refers to the five architects that appeared in the Museum of Modern Art’s 1967 exhibition dedicated to architectural modernism. The group includes Peter Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, and Richard Meier as well. Each of these individuals took modernism to the next level (Eisenman for example took a deconstructivist route while Meier deals with structuralism and complexity). Graves is a pop-architect in tune with historicism and allusion.

Graves was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1979 and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1999 and the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects in 2001. Some of his most famous buildings include the Snyderman House (Indiana, 1972), the Portland Public Service building (Portland, Oregon, 1982), and the Swan and Dolphin Resorts at Disney World (Orlando, 1990).


Five architects : Eisenman, Graves, Gwathmey, Hejduk, Meier. New York : Oxford University Press, 1975.

Michael Graves. 18 Apr. 2009 .

"Snyderman House, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1975; architect: Michael Graves." Process: Architecture. 7 (1978): 120-125.

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