Upon receiving the degree of Bachelor of Science in Architecture in 1958, Michael Graves entered Harvard University's Graduate School of Design and received a Master of Architecture degree the following year. After graduation, Michael Graves went to work for the designer and architect, George Nelson, where his long-standing interest in furniture design was encouraged. Michael Graves's stay at Nelson's office was short-lived however, because in 1960 he was the recipient of the Prix de Rome fellowship of the American Academy in Rome.
In 1962, Michael Graves accepted a teaching position at Princeton University. Michael Graves is currently the Schirmer Professor of Architecture at Princeton. The courses that Graves teaches in architectural theory and composition address various thematic topics including the relationship of buildings to landscape, the traditional elements of architecture, the idea of metaphor in architecture, the contrast between open space and the making of rooms, and the origins of furniture. In addition to teaching at Princeton, Michael Graves has been a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Houston, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Maryland, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and the New School for Social Research in New York, among others. Graves regularly participates in design critiques and juries for many universities, professional organizations, and publications here and abroad, and he lectures to audiences around the world.
Michael Graves has published a number of scholarly writings on his teaching and his own work. "The Swedish Connection," published in the Journal of Architectural Education in 1975, describes a short design exercise Michael Graves often assigns his graduate design studio. The exercise introduces students to issues of architectural character within an existing context, one of Michael Graves's major concerns in his own work. "The Necessity of Drawing: Tangible Speculation," published in 1977 in England's Architectural Design magazine, is a highly influential and much quoted article
characterizing several motivations and methods of drawing and the roles each plays in the process of architectural design. Using the conceptual basis developed in this article, Michael Graves later wrote Le Corbusier's Drawn References, an essay on selected drawings of Le Corbusier, published by Academy Editions in London, as an introduction to a catalog of drawings.
architectural standards books
building types & styles books
drawing & modelling books
historic preservation books
interior design books
project planning & management books
study & teaching books
urban & land use planning books Drawing is central to Michael Graves's way of working on and thinking about architecture, and he is well known for his evocative sketches and drawings. In 1979, Michael Graves was one of the first architects currently practicing to be presented in a one-man show in a commercial art gallery. The exhibition, held at the Max Protetch Gallery in New York, greatly advanced public interest in architectural drawings as works of art. Michael Graves's prints and drawings are among the most collectible today. Graves has exhibited his drawings and models in over 150 exhibitions through-out the world and his work is in the collections of such notable institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, The Newark Museum, the Deutsches Architekturmuseum, the Berlin Museum, and the Canadien Centre of Architecture.
In the 1970s, Michael Graves was known as one of the "New York Five" as a result of the publication of Five Architects, the outcome of a meeting of CASE (Conference of Architects for the Study of the Environment) held at the Museum of Modem Art in New York in 1969. Michael Graves's work was represented along with that of Peter Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, and Richard Meier. The work of each of these architects is rooted in modernism and cnaractenzed as "white."
Since that time, Michael Graves's own work has evolved dramatically, relative both to his use of color and to his interest in a figurative architecture that incorporates traditional elements along with the lessons of modernism. Michael Graves was referred to as "the man who is rewriting the language of color" by House and Gardens's editor Martin Filler As a colorist, Michael Graves uses what he terms representational colors, colors that are derived primarily from nature and materials. For example, terra cotta, representing the earth, is usually seen near the base of his structures. Blue used as a metaphor for the sky, is often chosen for the ceiling. According to Douglas Davis of Newsweek, "Michael Graves is a man obsessed with communicating the meaning of every element of his work. His soft, muted colors reinforce this concern for symbolism".