Michael Graves College Welcomes Graves Biographer Ian Volner

The Michael Graves College fall lecture series concluded on Thursday, November 16, with a talk by Michael Graves’ biographer Ian Volner. Volner is the author of Michael Graves: Design for Life, the first biography of Michael Graves. Michael Graves College Dean, David Mohney, FAIA, joined Volner on Thursday to discuss Graves’ work and legacy.

Winner of the AIA Gold Medal, the National Medal of the Arts, the Topaz Medallion and the Driehaus Prize for Architecture, Graves is best known for his contemporary building designs and prominent public commissions. Kean’s Michael Graves College continues Graves’ mission of accessibility and innovation in architecture and design.

“Today is about who we are as a college and what that means,” said Mohney. “This is about one of the most important architects in the last half century of American architecture.”

Volner and Mohney both praised Graves’ passion for teaching. A dedicated educator, Graves once stayed an hour after class to discuss color theory with then student David Mohney even though it was the day before Thanksgiving. 

“He was a natural born teacher,” said Volner. “He always managed to veer away from any kind of tedious pedantry.”

The Michael Graves College curriculum emphasizes hand drawing as a vital component of architecture pedagogy and practice. Michael Graves College students are taught to utilize sketching for ideation and computer assisted drafting programs for execution.

“The importance of drawing to that teaching and approach is a form of quiet rebellion,” said Volner.

Ian Volner has contributed articles on architecture, design, and urbanism to The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, Harper’s and The New Yorker online among other publications, and is a contributing editor at Architect and Surface.  In addition to Michael Graves: Design for Life, he is the author of This Is Frank Lloyd Wright, a winner of the Frankfurt Book Fair/Deutsches Architekturmuseum Book Award for 2016. 

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