Why I Love ...
A teaching gig first
Michael Graves to this
charming college town.
Five decades later,
there’s still no place
like the home he built
When Michael Graves returned to the
United States in 1962, after two years
studying at the American Academy in
Rome, he figured he’d live and work in
New York City. But when he took a position teaching architecture at Princeton
University, Graves settled in the historic
Ivy League town—and never left.
“What I think is so glorious about
Princeton is, in the end, it is not a suburb.
It’s a town,” Graves says. “It has all the
services, a main street and a center of
activity. What pulls all this together, of
course, is the university.”
If you have not yet figured it out,
Graves, now 77, is an unabashed hometown
booster. This year he marks a half century
in Princeton, where he lives just a block
away from his architecture and design
firms. His work takes him around the
globe—current projects are being built
in Egypt and Oman—but Graves says he
always looks forward to returning to the
L-shaped, salmon-colored former warehouse he has redesigned into something
more closely resembling a Tuscan villa.
“It’s really a wonderful spot,” he says,
“and it’s taken my whole life to do it.”
The New York Times has called Graves
“one of the few truly original American
architectural voices of our time.” He’s also
among the most prolific, designing libraries,
museums, schools, corporate headquarters
and high-end hotels, including his namesake
Hotel Michael, part of a luxury theme park
on a Singaporean island. Many American
consumers know Graves from the teakettles, colanders, can openers and other
household objects he designs for Target.
Because of an infection, Graves has
been paralyzed from the waist down and in
a wheelchair since 2003, and these days his
weekend ritual consists of a visit to downtown and the university’s Gothic campus.
Because he was a Princeton professor for
39 years, Graves says, university policy forbade him from designing a campus building.
“But I haven’t been a faculty member for
10 years,” he says, smiling. “So it’s time for
the phone to ring.” —CHRIS TOPHER HANN
places to ...
BROWSE FOR BOOKS
122 Nassau St., 609-497-
1600 • “I generally stop
in and see new titles,
especially in my field,”
Graves says. “It is very
McCormick Hall, 609-258-
3788 • The museum’s
72,000 works—from ancient
centuries, continents and
artistic movements. “It’s a
museum that gets better
every day,” Graves says.
SEE A PLAY
91 University Place, 609-
258-2787 • Under artistic
director Emily Mann,
McCarter has won a Tony
Award for best regional
theater and been a proving
ground for new works by
South African playwright
Athol Fugard. A McCarter
commission, Are You There,
McPhee? by John Guare,
premières May 4.
29 Hulfish St., 609-252-
9680 • “I get penne al
telefono,” Graves says.
“Pasta with a heavy dose
of cheese. They call it tele-
fono ... because it’s stringy
like a telephone cord.”