Postmodern architect Michael Graves dies at 80

NYC projects included Impala Building, 425 Fifth Avenue and Columbia's nursing school

Michael Graves
Michael Graves

Michael Graves, one of the most notable American architects of the 20th century, died on Thursday. He was 80.

Graves, a native of Indianapolis, was responsible for the design of more than 350 buildings around the world, according to the New York Times. Graves’ claim to fame, however, was designing the teakettle and pepper mill. He earned architecture degrees from the University of Cincinnati and Harvard University. 

Graves started teaching at Princeton University in 1962 and founded the firm Michael Graves & Associates in Princeton, N.J., in 1964. He was paralyzed from the waist down in 2003 after a spinal cord infection, according to the newspaper. In the 1970s, Graves was associated with the New York Five, a group of architects who made their mark on modernism in the 1970s.

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In New York City, he worked on the Impala Building, Averne East, 425 Fifth Avenue, Columbia University School of Nursing and the French Institute/Alliance Francaise Library.

In the 1980s, Graves proposed an expansion of the Whitney Museum of American Art, which never materialized.

“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 cited by the newspaper. “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.” [NYT] — Claire Moses