Michael Graves is an American architect. Identified as one of The New York Five, Graves was known first for his contemporary building designs and some prominent public commissions. Since designing domestic products sold at Target stores in the United States, he has become more widely known.
Graves was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. He attended Broad Ripple High School, receiving his diploma in 1952. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Cincinnati where he also became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He earned a master's degree in architecture from Harvard University.
An architect in public practice in Princeton, New Jersey, since 1964, Graves is also the Robert Schirmer Professor of Architecture, Emeritus at Princeton University. He directs the firm Michael Graves & Associates, which has offices in Princeton and in New York City. Graves and his firm have earned critical acclaim for a wide variety of commercial and residential buildings and interior design, although some occupants of the buildings object to the confined views caused by signature features such as small or circular windows and squat columns. Graves was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1979. In 1999 Graves was awarded the National Medal of Arts, in 2001 the AIA Gold Medal, in 2010 the AIA Topaz Medal, and in 2012 the Driehaus Prize for Classical Architecture. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council.
In 2000 he designed the unique scaffolding used for the restoration of the Washington Monument in DC. During that assignment, which Target Corp. sponsored, he met a Target executive that appreciated his product design and a relationship was formed. He began designing consumer products for the mass market and Target sold his products through their stores. Concerned about Target's partnerships with other designers with less-successful outcomes, he explored other relationships to bring products to consumers. When the former Target executive became CEO of JCPenney, his products switched over to being sold exclusively through J.C. Penney.
In 2003, an infection of unknown origin (possibly bacterial meningitis) left Graves paralyzed from the waist down. He is still active in his practice, which is developing a number of projects; including an addition to the Detroit Institute of Arts, and a large Integrated Resort, Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore.
In 2010, Graves was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.