International Educator - May/June 2012 - 84
A native of Indianapolis, Michael Graves received his architectural training at the University of Cincinnati and Harvard University. In 1960 he won the Rome Prize and studied at the American Academy in Rome for two years, of which he is now a Trustee. In 1962 Graves began a 39-year teaching career at Princeton University, where he is now the Robert Schirmer Professor of Architecture, Emeritus. He has received 13 honorary doctorates and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters as well as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Michael Graves and his ﬁrms have received over 200 awards for design excellence. Graves received the 1999 National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton. In 2001 the American Institute of Architects awarded Michael Graves its Gold Medal, the highest award bestowed upon an individual architect.
He spent his two years studying and traveling across Europe. “I went east to Greece and Turkey and Yugoslavia, and then back through Switzerland and France, Spain, and England, and the low countries,” he says. “I’d always return to Rome and look at my wife and say, ‘Why did we ever leave Rome?’” Upon his return to the United States, Graves secured a job teaching at Princeton, which he thought would allow him to teach some days and establish a New York practice part-time. “I loved it so much that we decided to stay in Princeton,” he says. “Ultimately, I was lucky enough to get a house to design for a faculty member, and I studied for my [architecture] exam and I passed.” He’s never left the town, teaching at Princeton for 39 years while building and leading his well-known practices. It all, he says, goes back to his time abroad in Rome. “Whether you’re looking at the ancient first or second or third century Romanesque or the Renaissance or the Baroque or the modern architecture of the 20s and 30s, you see the continuity of the language,” he says. “You get a sense and importance of the stories. A door isn’t just a passage to get into and out of. It separates the human being from one mode of being to another. Outside is being more public and more exposed. You come over the threshold to the interior and you’re more private, more familiar. Those issues became clear to me when I saw them done in the first century and all through the architecture of the Roman capital.” He laughs when asked if he recommends that young architects study abroad. “The only thing I know is that it certainly worked for me,” he says. “I would recommend it to anybody.”
InternatIonal educator M AY + J U N E . 12
courtesy of michael Graves