Michael Graves dies: A shortlist of the architect's greatest works. (PHOTOS.)

From Teakettles to Libraries, the Wide-Ranging Career of Architect Michael Graves

From Teakettles to Libraries, the Wide-Ranging Career of Architect Michael Graves

The Eye
Slate’s design blog.
March 13 2015 3:10 PM

From Teakettles to Libraries, the Wide-Ranging Career of Architect Michael Graves

01Whistling Bird Teakettle for Alessi
Whistling Bird Teakettle for Alessi, 1985.

Courtesy of Michael Graves Architecture & Design

New Jersey–based architect Michael Graves died Thursday at age 80.

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Michael Graves died Thursday at age 80.

Courtesy of Michael Graves Architecture & Design

An influential postmodern architect and member of the New York Five, Graves taught at Princeton University for four decades. Over the course of his long career, he designed some 2,000 household objects for Alessi, Steuben, and Target, which made him a household name.

An obituary in the New York Times called Graves “one of the most prominent and prolific American architects of the latter 20th century, who designed more than 350 buildings around the world but was perhaps best known for his teakettle and pepper mill.”

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(The teakettle is above; here's the pepper mill.)

Graves received a National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton in 1999 and the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects in 2001.  

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Target Spinning Whistle Teakettle, designed by Michael Graves in 1999, was a more democratically priced version of his famous tea kettle.

Courtesy of Michael Graves Architecture & Design

In later years, Graves’ use of a wheelchair for mobility turned his attention to patient-centered health care design.

In February, Fast Company recognized his firm as one of the world’s top 10 most innovative companies in design, specifically citing the firm’s focus on addressing health care design with “empathy and fresh ideas.”

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To mark the 50th anniversary of Graves’ firm, an exhibition of his work is on view at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey, until April 5.

To mark his passing, here's a selection of some of Graves' greatest and best known works.

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Team Disney Building, Burbank, California. The front façade is a postmodern interpretation of the Parthenon, with dwarfs, nearly 20 feet in height, holding up the pediment and facing a pedestrian plaza and reflecting pool.

Courtesy of Michael Graves Architecture & Design

Washington Monument Edit
Michael Graves’ scaffolding to protect the Washington Monument during major restoration work in 1999 (and again after a 2011 earthquake damaged the monument) was a thing of beauty.

Courtesy of Michael Graves Architecture & Design

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Denver Library Main Facade Sketch
The award-winning Denver Central Library (top) designed by Michael Graves included the preservation and renovation of the 1956 modernist library by Burnham Hoyt, and a 390,000-square-foot expansion. It opened in 1995. Above, a sketch of the Denver Central Library's main facade.

Courtesy of Michael Graves Architecture & Design

PortlandB
The Portland Building opened in 1982. It is home to the municipal offices of Portland, Oregon, and in 2011 became part of the National Register of Historic Places.

Courtesy of Michael Graves Architecture & Design

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Completed in 1985, the Humana Building in Louisville, Kentucky, received a National AIA Honor Award.

Courtesy of Michael Graves Architecture & Design

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Walking Sticks for Kimberly-Clark designed by Michael Graves in 2014.

Courtesy of Michael Graves Architecture & Design

Kristin Hohenadel's writing on design has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, Vogue, Elle Decor, Lonny, and Apartment Therapy.