Michael Graves was a legendary American postmodernist architect and designer. He was born in Indianapolis, studied at Cincinnati University, and afterward, he took on a teaching position at Princeton University. He was an advocate of New Classical Architecture, New Urbanism, as well as Postmodernism. His company, Michael Graves Architecture & Design, has designed nearly 400 buildings around the world and won many prizes.

“New York Five” or the “Whites”:

He was one of the “New York Five”, which was a group of New York architects who endorsed the modernism movement in the 1970s. They were also called the “Whites” because of all the white buildings they created.

New York Five via Broken Sidewalk

Tackling the Industry:

Graves tackled the consumer market with his designs for Target Corp, Black and Decker, the Italian houseware company Alessi, and J.C. Penney. His designs for those companies included everyday household objects like the world-known Alessi tea kettle.

The kettle, which is the best-selling product of all times for Alessi, is made of stainless steel and has a bird whistle. Graves believed that such items should be available to the public at a fair price that everyone can afford. Things didn’t go smoothly all along his career, as he got under some heat since his partial shift for household design.

Graves Coffee Pot, Photography: Eckehard Schulz/AP

Becoming a Healthcare Designer and Expert:

In 2000, he suffered an infection that left him bedridden in a hospital. His paralysis made him notice that there was a lot missing in healthcare design. He realized that the hospital rooms were dull, bleak, and lacked a lot of items that would facilitate a patient’s stay. More patient-friendly furniture and wheelchairs were among the healthcare objects he designed.

Graves holding a bathtub handle he designed for the handicapped, Photography: Mel Evans/AP

His interest in designing and drawing never ceased even after he has fallen ill. Graves believed that for anyone aspiring to achieve excellence in drawing, they have to practice on a daily basis, and that was, precisely, what he did.

Here are some of the most prominent designs of Michael Graves:

1) The Portland Building, Oregon, USA

Photography: Harry Melchert/dpa/Corbis

The Portland building, which opened in 1982, is one of the most important postmodern architecture buildings. It is characterized by its small square windows and its pink exterior. However, Graves was criticized for the insufficient daylight these windows brought into the building. That is in addition to the costly repairs of the water leaks that reached $95 million.

2) Sheraton Miramar Hotel, El Gouna, Egypt

Photography: Norbert Schiller/AP

El Gouna is a tourist destination that overlooks the Red Sea, north of Hurghada, Egypt. Graves designed this hotel following in the footsteps of the renowned Egyptian architect Omar Fathy who is the father of Egyptian vernacular architecture. The hotel, that was completed in 1997, has thick walls and huge columns resembling the palace of a pharaoh.

3) The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, Florida, USA

Image via orlandohelitours.com

Both of the sister hotels, that opened in 1990, are located within the same resort. Graves designed a swan statue on one hotel and a dolphin on the other. Both represented potential future characters in Disney films.

4) The Denver Public Library Addendum, Colorado, USA

Photography: Natalie Tepper/Arcaid/Corbis

The library that has existed for decades, needed a new extension, which Graves designed. The venue, which opened in 1995, receives about one million visitors every year.

5) The new Paul Robeson Center for the Arts in Princeton, New Jersey, USA

Photography: Brown, Amanda/SL/Corbis

In 1998, Princeton University got the idea of establishing the Arts Council building in tribute to the prominent African American civil rights activist and singer Paul Robeson. The building we see today is the result of several redesigns and shrinkages of Graves’ original design.

6) The Hard Rock Hotel, Singapore

Photography: Wong Maye-E/AP

Graves designed the hotel rooms to be cylindrical in shape, with exotic colors which suit the rock music-themed brand.




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