In memoriam: Michael Graves, 2012 Driehaus Prize Laureate

Author: Mary Beth Zachariades

Architect Michael Graves, 2012 recipient of the Richard H. Driehaus Prize at the University of Notre Dame, died on Thursday, March 12, 2015 at age 80 in Princeton, NJ.

“We are very saddened by the loss of Michael Graves. He truly changed the world and his career redefined the role of the architect in society,” says Michael Lykoudis, Francis and Kathleen Rooney Dean of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture. “He touched the lives of millions with his designs – from grand buildings such as the iconic Denver Central Library to his work with the Wounded Warrior Home Project and even to everyday objects like his famed Alessi tea kettle. His diverse interests led to the creation of an amazing spectrum of designs reflecting how humanity lives together.

“Michael served as an inspiration to our students and the School will always be grateful to him for the time he invested in our students while teaching a section of a design studio course in Rome. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his family, friends, and colleagues,” continued Lykoudis.

Richard Driehaus, patron of the Richard H. Driehaus Prize, stated, “The loss of Michael Graves will be keenly felt by all who had the honor of knowing him, but his influence on architecture and design will endure for generations. In an essay in Timeless Architecture, a book marking the tenth anniversary of the Driehaus Prize, he wrote, ‘One of the greatest strengths of traditional architecture is its emphasis on the plan. Through shaping rooms and the passages between them, the classical plan influences how we use buildings and how we experience them. This is much harder to achieve in modern architecture because of its fascination with space.’ Despite this, he seamlessly navigated between the traditional and modern idioms.”

Graves was the Founding Principal of the firm Michael Graves & Associates (MGA). In addition to the Driehaus Prize, Graves was the recipient of the 2001 American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal, the 1999 National Medal of Arts and the 2010 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion honoring his commitment to architectural education. He was the Robert Schirmer Professor of Architecture, Emeritus at Princeton University, where he taught for nearly 40 years.