You can scarce consider the postmodern movement without thinking about one of its biggest architectural icons, Michael Graves. Sadly, this month marks the end of an era; but what he left behind is a true legacy.
Graves’ influence can be felt throughout generations of work, specifically three major design movements. And although the loss of this great man at age 80 is a loss even for generations yet to come, he will also continue to bring both joy and inspiration. And that’s probably how he probably would have wanted it.
Graves’ Work Meant Something More
Most architects want to make a difference. But Michael Graves actually accomplished it to a degree that most could really only dream about. He was a phenomenally influential architect, professor, and mentor to countless people. So much so that tributes from around the world are still pouring out.
Early in his career, he was known as a member of the New York Five, which Christopher Hawthorne at the LA Times LA Times explains was a group of young and forward-thinking architects. Their book, “Five Architects,” seemed to mold them into an architectural force, but Graves wanted something different.
His vision went beyond the ordinary. Where his contemporaries leaned toward conservative ideas, Graves thought big. So big, in fact, that the columns and pillars and other larger-than-life elements that had all but been eliminated found their way back into his designs. But it wasn’t just about scale; it was about people and what they enjoy.
He Believed Great Design was for Everyone
Some of his most commonly known designs were with Target, yes that Target. Graves believed that great design wasn’t just for grand projects. It should be attainable for everyone, even the person who is only in the market for a tea kettle. And there’s no reason why that kettle couldn’t have a bird and a whistle. So it did.
But attainable great design was also more than cute household products that worked better than anything at their price point should have. After a sinus infection complication led to his paralysis, Graves turned his attention to great design for accessibility. Even a life-changing event couldn’t slow him down.
In February of 2013, he was appointed to President Obama’s administration, and he began yet another phase in his already incredible career. His appointment to the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board meant, as Reeda Jana at ZDNet said it, “his vision and grace” would reach more people in a greater way.
Michael Graves’ career is nearly impossible for any one person to summarize, which is probably why there are so many unique tributes to this icon of architecture. His life was one of constantly seeking what’s better, what would be more enjoyable, and what would reach and affect more people in a better way.
His might not always have been the most popular of ideas, at least with some of his peers. But there is no denying that Michael Graves is remembered as one of the best loved and broadest reaching architects of this age.
Even visionary architects have to begin somewhere, and that includes professional development hours. When it’s time for you to meet your requirements check out our courses and see what PDH Academy can do for you.