Michael Graves(December 2, 1987)

Michael Rotondi introduces Michael Graves, stressing the comprehensiveness and thoughtfulness of his practice.

Michael Graves identifies the first part of his lecture as “Architecture 101”. He presents two sitting rooms separated by exactly 100 years: Georg Friedrich Kersting’s painting “Woman embroidering” (1877), and Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye (1927). He identifies Ada Louise Huxtable as the source of the (incorrect) rumor that he originally trained as a painter.

He discusses plan-making, which he identifies as one of the most abstract tasks of the architect. Graves demonstrates this sense of elusiveness using Mies van der Rohe’s unbuilt brick villa as an example. He revisits the Crystal Palace, while discussing it’s relevance to modern architecture.

Graves presents a series of projects either recently completed or in development. The first is a renovation of a museum and offices in Atlanta’s Emory University.  Next, he documents the site strategy for an office building in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  He then discusses the development of an office and auction space for Sotheby’s in New York.  While many of the projects presented are briefly described, Graves gives a more extensive synopsis for his masterplan for Disney’s corporate headquarters in Burbank, California.  Several other projects are shown, concluding with an overview of an addition to the Breuer building at the Whitney Museum in New York.  A discussion of historic preservation concerns follows.

Graves revisits the Portland Building, a milestone in his professional career.   He then expresses concern about the influence of academics on his career, identifying censorship and discourse in the field of architecture as key topics.  Finally, Graves argues for a reconsideration of the role of criticism and asserts that, in contrast to his own work, classical architecture is being revisited in a trite way.

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