This interview with the late Michael Graves took place at his home in Princeton in 2012. The discussion addressed Graves’s interest in classical form, as well as architectural meaning, and architectural drawing.

  • “I was about eight years old at the time and she said engineering or architecture. I asked her what engineers did, and she told me, and I said that I’m going to be an architect.”

  • “I was in a class of thirty-two or three people at Harvard. I think I was the only one that had never been to Europe. So here is this loser going off to Rome and seeing the American Academy for the first time. […] Rome was a real awakening for me.”

  • “How was Rome, in terms of a formative experience of developing this thematic understanding of architecture and was it particularly a moment where you encountered art history and art historical studies in order to understand the thematic content of architecture?”

  • “But before that, I was at Princeton for a year really by myself. I did things like start a program for exhibitions and lectures. We didn’t have lectures at the time.”

  • “What were some of these competitions you were working on with Peter?”

  • “I gave a course called—that the students named ‘Spots and Dots.’ The projects would have their own internal logic. They would be two dimensional and three dimensional.”

  • “What were people reading, basically, and what was the kind of literature coming into these seminar courses…?”

  • “We were actually designing something. We were designing the section of a possible linear city. How would you do that? How would you make the section of a city?”

  • “There was a lot of energy about the city and what was happening. We had torn down everything in America. We’d, you know, you tore down Des Moines Iowa, you tore down everything for a parking lot. The folk singers would talk about it in their songs. You know, it was everywhere, the fact that nothing was preserved.”

  • “Gris’ paintings, more than the purists and the other people, and in terms of not just cubism but of ambiguities and transparencies, were of enormous importance to me.”

  • “That kind of transformation from this person to that person, to finally you all like your family now and you’re sitting here and we’re having this discussion, intrigues me in terms of making a plan.”

  • “We’re talking about mundane things here: floors, ceilings, walls, doors, windows—people realized that these are the repositories, these walls are the repositories of our thoughts about a room like this. This is the only place you get to play, the six sides of volume…”

  • “Peter was looking for meaning in an abstract code, and I was looking for meaning in an abstract and literal code, and I think that’s fair to both of us. My simple thoughts.”

  • “When I said earlier that I was interested in the texture of architecture, I’m interested in the way all the pieces meet each other, without being a carpenter.”



Hans Tursack

Issue Editor

Hans Tursack

Senior Editor

Joseph Bedford


Trudy Watt


Michael Graves


Joseph Bedford


Hans Tursack


The Warehouse, Princeton, NJ