Contemporary Cachet: Exhibition Celebrates Michael Graves

Michael Graves Architect - St Coletta School

Michael Graves' St. Coletta School of Greater Washington

Iconic contemporary architect and designer Michael Graves is in the spotlight once again: The Virginia Center for Architecture in Richmond is showcasing a broad selection of Graves’ work in a special exhibition called “From Towers to Teakettles: Michael Graves Architecture and Design,” now through March 31.

Graves and his two firms—Michael Graves & Associates and Michael Graves Design Group—have been in the forefront of contemporary architecture and design since Graves founded his practice in 1964. He is perhaps best known for bringing modern design to the masses through a longstanding partnership with Target.

The exhibition features a number of legendary projects in architecture, interior design, and product design, including the Whistling Bird Teakettle (for Alessi) and a life-size rendering of the Prime TC Transport Chair (for Stryker Medical).

Among the architectural gems being showcased are the recently completed Resorts World Sentosa, a 3.5 million-square-foot luxury resort in Singapore designed from top to bottom by Graves and his team. Other projects on view include the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, VA, the St. Coletta School of Greater Washington, and the U.S. Courthouse in Washington, DC.

Michael Graves Architect - Resorts World Sentosa

Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore

One of the most important and culturally significant projects featured in the exhibition is the Wounded Warrior Home project. Located at VA’s Fort Belvoir, the project, aimed at improving the quality of life for disabled soldiers on active duty, makes universally accessible homes available on the base.

The hope is that Wounded Warrior homes will become models for other military bases and beyond. “As a paraplegic myself, I was inspired to rethink how the design of comfortable, well-functioning living spaces could better meet the unique needs of our wounded military,” Graves states.

Michael Graves Architect - Wounded Warrior Home

Michael Graves' Wounded Warrior Model Home. Photo: Jim Kirby

The single-story Patriot and Freedom Homes include such architectural elements as open floor plans, sliding interior doors, low windows, wide hallways, level thresholds and solid surface flooring. Some of the technological enhancements include home automation systems, window and door sensors, entry-door intercom systems, video monitoring systems, enhanced HVAC and illuminated rocker switches.

Michael Graves Architect - Wounded Warrior Home Bathroom

Wounded Warrior Model Home bathroom by Michael Graves. Photo: Jim Kirby

According to the design team, “The Freedom and Patriot homes not only respond to the unique physical and emotional needs of these deserving soldiers, but also reflect the service and sacrifice these Wounded Warriors have given in the line of duty. It is our hope that this endeavor contributes to a broader dialogue on how developers and builders can leverage thoughtful, human-centered design to better accommodate all persons with disabilities.”

Michael Graves Architect - Wounded Warrior Home Kitchen

Wounded Warrior Model Home kitchen designed by Michael Graves. Photo: Jim Kirby

The Virginia Center for Architecture is located at 2501 Monument Avenue in Richmond, VA’s historic Fan District. The Center is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The exhibition will be open through March 31, 2013.

For more on innovative architecture, consider:

Hudson Passive Project
Home Sweet Container House
Chicago’s First Prefab Modular House