Michael Graves and the Trap
“Those who love too much lose everything; those who love with irony, last.”
Hephaistion [The Persian Warrior], Alexander (Oliver Stone, 2004) Post-modernism in the 1980s has, without any doubt, had a lasting impact on architecture today. It is a strand of architectural thought has continued to be expanded and developed even after it’s prominence in the 1980s. Definitions of the “post-modern” are often ephemeral, post-modernism could be understood as stylistic play, using the techniques of inversion, subversion, pastiche or irony. One of the leading proponents of a post-modern architecture is Charles Jencks; he attempts to define the post-modernist: “They may not always try to heal the rifts in culture, but they do recognise the contradictory pressures at work today and aim to derive an art and politics from them. Hence their typical style – radical eclecticism hence their characteristic tone – the double voiced discourse which accepts and criticizes at the same time. It is this double-coding which makes post-modernism relatively new and not a simple compromise,”
One of the archetypes of post-modernism is Michael Graves; his large catalogue of work reflects the core properties of post-modernism. Born in 1934, and educated at Harvard, Graves became a prominent young architect with a showcase of his work published in Five Architects. His work has a distinct aesthetic and encompasses a wide range of programs and functions. Potentially The Portland Building can be seen in perhaps his most well-known project, a post-modern skyscraper that overlooks the city of Portland, Oregon.
Graves’s formative roots lie in early modernism. His first works is inspired by Le Corbusier’s, where visual planes are used to construct spaces. The Hanselmann House is a good example of Grave’s free modernism. He states, “Ribbon windows were like Le Corbusier’s except they were asymmetrically