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Graves, Michael Indianapolis Art Center, 1996


Born in Indianapolis, Michael Graves is one of the most famous architects and designers in the world. He graduated from Broad Ripple High School in 1950, and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and his master’s degree from Harvard University. He also studied at the American Academy in Rome beginning in 1960. Graves opened his architecture practice in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1964 and taught at Princeton University for almost 40 years. His firm, Michael Graves & Associates, has designed residential and commercial buildings throughout the world and has developed a line of household items for stores such as Target. Graves was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1999 and the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects in 2001. Since a 2003 illness, he has been paralyzed from the waist down; however, he remains active in his architecture and design practice.

  • Indianapolis Art Center, 1996
  • Keywords: architecture, art galleries, steel and stucco
  • Subjects: auditoriums, windows, doors, columns, rivers

Designed by world-renowned architect and designer Michael Graves, the Indianapolis Art Center is one of the city’s premier cultural institutions. It measures 40,000 square feet and, according to Graves’ Web site, contains “teaching and studio space for painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, computer graphics, woodworking, glassblowing, ceramics, stone sculpture, and metalsmithing, in addition to a gallery for temporary exhibits, a library, and a 224-seat auditorium for lectures and film. Following the project’s completion in 1996, Michael Graves & Associates collaborated with local landscape architect Rundell Ernstberger on the design of a sensory ARTSPARK for sculpture exhibits and special events extending along the banks of the White River. MGA also prepared a master plan for future expansion of the building.”

Some Points To Consider

  • Show the class examples of a variety of architectural styles. Then ask students to classify the Indianapolis Art Center as either contemporary or traditional. Have them provide details about which of the building’s features helped in their decision. (Art 4.2.3)
  • Have students look in reference books or online to find other buildings designed by Michael Graves, and share those with the entire class for response. Discuss the other styles he has used. Ask students to choose their favorite buildings and to give reasons why. (Art 4.5.1)