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Michael Graves – PoMo gone to the grave


Too soon for bad-taste comments? Sorry Michael – I never knew you at all, but with a name like Graves you’ve probably had those jokes all your life. A life which has just ended – yes, sadly, the world’s greatest Post-Modern architect has, like the architectural style that he helped spawn, passed away. Far be it for the Arch Centre website to become just a succession of obituaries, but it is worth spending some time on the man, the movement, and the fusion of design craziness that they created together.
If you want to know more about the man, the Architectural Record has a good obituary here, which tells us he died at home in Princeton, aged 80, and was best known for two things: the Portland building in Oregon, and the whistling kettle he created for Alessi. Both were hugely iconic and defined a generation, but both were fundamentally flawed in basic functional design principles. The Portland building was undertaken by Graves when he was in his early 40s and had never built anything that size: a giant cube of space decorated on the outside with stripes and even large floral decorative wreathes, it has had endless discussion over its suitability as an office, Read More

The Death of Post-Modernism

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They say that you never forget where you were, or what you were doing, when a major event happens – Man Walking on the Moon, John F Kennedy’s assassination, the destruction of the Twin Towers, or the All Blacks winning the World Cup (in the case of myself, and I suspect many of us, it is: in school, out of school, in a flat in Mt Vic, and in front of a tv). In a similar manner, there are times marked by significant events – the one that springs to mind is the declaration of the End of the Modern Movement, with the demolition of the AIA Award-winning housing project at Pruitt Igoe, on March 16, 1972.

“Upon completion in 1956, the project won design awards Read More

“Something Awful being built” – or not as the case may be.


Astute venue of architectural criticism, the Capital Times (8-14th April 2009) came up trumps recently via comic strip “Jitterati”‘s social commentary. With one foul swoop (or more accurately four comic strip frames) local building, the recession, class politics, and architectural disillusionments ensued. One cultural giant was pitted against the merits of another, as the comic strip queried the relative value of stalled developer architecture (represented by the Watermark Development) and cinema (represented by the Rialto). Read More