Society of Fellows

Obituaries

Michael Graves, FAAR 1962, RAAR 1978

Michael Graves in Rome
Photo: AAR Archives

Academy Fellow, Resident, and Trustee Michael Graves died on March 12, 2015 at the age of 80.

Much has been written about Michael Graves who was a wonderful example of the architect that Daniel Burnham, Charles Follen McKim, Augustus Saint-Gaudens and the rest of the gang were plotting to create during the many evenings they sat around the fireplace in “the Shack” on the site of the construction of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1894. They envisioned young American architects sent abroad to study the classical buildings of Rome. Little did they know that about 80 years later a man like Graves would take those lessons and turn them into Postmodernism. 

A lesser known aspect of Grave’s life was his loyalty to the Society of Fellows of which he he was president from 1980 to 1984. Along with Virginia Bush Suttman, FAAR 1977, who succeeded him as president from 1984-1988, he resurrected it after it had faltered and ceased to operate in 1975. It is remarkable that he made time to focus on the SOF even though he was in the midst of one of the most important points in his career, the opening of the Portland Building in 1982. 

In Celebrating a Century, an informal history and commentary compiled for the Academy’s centennial in 1994, Deborah Karasov wrote, “A Graves building may at first glance appear as a pastiche of building parts; in fact, the buildings were never copied directly. In the words of Ada Louise Huxtable, his buildings were rather like films that use flashbacks and events seen through many eyes, telling a story of ambiguous and multifaceted meanings. For a new generation exploring poverty and the meaning of architecture, Graves has been one of the most inspirational and influential American architects.”