Friday, March 13, 2015

Michael Graves Dies Age 80

Michael Graves died yesterday according to his Princeton NJ office. 

Graves embraced post modernism and gave the style one of its most well known icons which also helped accelerate the downfall of this most recent attempt of defining another style for architecture. Since then, no cohesive architectural style has emerged. 

“For those of us who had the opportunity to work closely with Michael, we knew him as an extraordinary designer, teacher, mentor and friend,” his firm said in a statement. “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.”
He actually also has a connection to Baltimore that goes back to  2000 when Graves tried to build a project in Baltimore, the Ritz Carlton. The SUN described the design review as follows: 

The single-tower plan presented to the DAP has a proposed height of roughly 270 feet. The restrictions limit development to 71 feet, so as not to block views from historic Federal Hill, which rises 82 feet. 

South Baltimore residents object to the plans for a single tower because of its height, but DAP members appeared to favor the approach. "From an urban design point of view, a single tower preserves more of the panoramic view," said DAP member Reginald W. Griffith. "That's pretty straightforward. I see no problem with the height of a single tower."
Said Elliot Rhodeside, another DAP member: "Retaining a slice of the water view is really key from an urban design point, I think. And the single tower concept does that best." The tallest building in Baltimore is the William Donald Schaefer Tower at 6 St. Paul St., which is 590 feet tall, including its 120-foot "mast." The World Trade Center, across the Inner Harbor from the proposed Ritz, is 30 stories and 423 feet tall.
The project's architect, Michael Graves & Associates Inc. of Princeton, N.J., also endorsed the single-building scheme for the hotel, which Fisher hopes to have open by 2002.
"As the building gets taller, it frees up more of the land," said Michael Graves, famous for designs for the World Bank's International Finance Corp. and Washington Monument scaffolding and interior renovation, both in Washington. "It frees up the site for use by all the people. We feel urbanistically that it presents a way out of this dilemma [of blocking views from Federal Hill]." Graves added that the hotel could even "go on a diet" to trim its mass and rise another four or five stories. In addition to the hotel, which would have a 45-foot-high arcade to allow the city promenade to continue around the water uninterrupted, Fisher also presented plans for a five-story office building and ancillary retail. In all, the office and retail space would add between 150,000 square feet and 175,000 square feet to the project.

But the protest of residents over the tall building continued and Graves was taken off the project and replaced with a local architect who designed what we see along Key Highway today. 

Sun architectural critic described the demise of Graves as the architect and Baltimore's loss thus: 

Dissatisfied with preliminary plans for the building yet anxious to move ahead with construction, the developers have brought in a design team headed by Paul Marks and Mark Heckman of Marks, Thomas and Associates in Baltimore, and John Nichols and Anne Jackaway of Nichols, Brosch, Sandoval and Associates (NBS) in Coral Gables, Fla., a firm that specializes in upscale hotels and already has designed seven for Ritz-Carlton,
With the change in architects, Graves joins a slew of A-list architects who have begun work on key Baltimore projects only to be replaced before construction starts. It includes Americans Philip Johnson and Kevin Roche, whose firms designed downtown office towers, and British architect Richard Rogers, the original designer of Columbus Center on Pier 5.
The appointment of new architects for the 250-room Ritz-Carlton Inner Harbor (and the accompanying 75 to 100 Residences at the Ritz-Carlton) is also an occasion for fresh thinking about the design principles that make Baltimore's Inner Harbor so popular, and how those positive attributes can be extended to the harbor's south shore.
Mission impossible?
When he was commissioned in 1998 to design a Ritz-Carlton for Baltimore, Graves was given a seemingly impossible assignment -- to fit a hotel and condominium development at the foot of Federal Hill without blocking views to and from the hill itself. (article).

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

The Portland Municipal Building, an early PoMo landmark

New York Times obituary

Michael Graves, Postmodernist Architect Who Designed Towers and Teakettles, Dies at 80

(for full article see link. These are snippets only):

Mr. Graves became a household name not for his buildings but for designing more than 2,000 everyday consumer products for companies like Target, Alessi, Steuben and Disney.
When he was awarded the American Institute of Architects’ gold medal in 2000, the institute’s Eugene C. Hopkins said Mr. Graves had “brought quality designed products within reach of everyone in the country.” (He also received the National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton the previous year.)
This utilitarian direction arguably lost Mr. Graves some ground in his profession. “He chose to go populist and commercial,” the architect Peter Eisenman, a good friend of Mr. Graves, said in a telephone interview. “I think you pay a price for those kinds of things.”
Mr. Graves persevered nonetheless, with unabashed pride. Asked by The Times in 2011 whether he worried about injuring his reputation, he said: “Just the opposite. It was my hope to do that.”

After he began using a wheelchair, Mr. Graves became internationally recognized as an advocate of health care design. In a 2011 interview, he explained why he tended to use color in designing hospital rooms.
“It’s not there to get you well,” he said, “but make you smile and make you think life is not as bad as that operation you had.”
Mr. Eisenman said he and Mr. Meier had both seen Mr. Graves recently, at a luncheon at the American Academy of Arts, and noted that the declining numbers of the New York Five (Mr. Hejduk died in 2000, Mr. Gwathmey in 2009) had made him think about his own mortality.
“We had a lot of good times,” Mr. Eisenman said. “As I said to Richard Meier, ‘And then there were two.’ ”
Michael Graves in 1999, with his Target designs. He was one of the New York Five, and designed more than 350 buildings. CreditFred R. Conrad/The New York Times

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