Kean University Announces the Michael Graves School of Architecture

On Saturday, Union-based Kean University announced the newly formed Michael Graves School of Architecture as an integral event that celebrates the 50th anniversary of his Princeton-based firm Michael Graves Architecture & Design. 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.

“Michael Graves and his namesake, Kean’s Michael Graves School of Architecture embrace the University’s principle goals — teaching students to think critically, creatively and globally,” said Kean University President Dawood Farahi. “Providing our students with the opportunity to learn from his visionary philosophy and world-class approach to design will empower them to succeed as premier architects of the 21st century.”

“Developing the curriculum for the Michael Graves School of architecture at Kean University and Wenzhou-Kean University has been a deeply gratifying experience for me,” said Michael Graves. “Students will develop a well rounded understanding of the role of architecture in society, with a respect for its history and clear vision for the future.”

The School’s curriculum will intensively utilize the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area and the Wenzhou region of China, where Kean University has an English-speaking campus, as a pedagogical component of the curriculum. Students will engage with the discipline within a real-world context.

The program, which consists of 185 credit hours, will address the increasing level of professional design services required in the 21st century, and the increasing globalization of architectural design. Students are encouraged to complete a 4-year Bachelor of Arts degree in Architectural Studies, followed by a 2-year professional Master of Architecture degree.

David Mohney, Acting Dean of the Michael Graves School of Architecture, describes the unique approach of his former instructor and mentor. “In our technologically savvy world, to this day, Michael Graves’ philosophy is to draw by hand first so that the students see, “feel” and experience the new building spatially. Then, only after the drawing is complete will the students transfer the design to a computer so that the computer becomes an execution tool, not an ideation tool.”

In 1962, after a two year fellowship at the American Academy in Rome, Michael Graves began a 39-year teaching career at Princeton University, where he is now the Robert Schirmer Professor of Architecture, Emeritus. He has received 14 honorary doctorates, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

In 2003, an infection left Graves paralyzed from the waist down. He partially credits his strong empathetic sense to design with his ordeal as a patient. Graves remains active in his practice, designing buildings and objects that are beautiful, accessible and highly functional.

“One of the market differentiators of the Michael Graves School of Architecture will be the ability to study architecture abroad such as the classically designed buildings in Italy and some of the oldest buildings in the world in China,” added Dean Mohney.

David Mohney, FAIA, previously worked as the Dean of the College of Design at the University of Kentucky and taught at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York City, the Graduate School of Design at Harvard, and the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles. A practicing architect, he was educated at Harvard University and Princeton’s School of Architecture. David serves on both the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Board of Directors, and the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture Board of Governors.

The Michael Graves School of Architecture will be housed in the award-winning Green Lane Academic Building that opened in early 2014 on Kean’s Union Township campus. There will also be a building designed by Graves that will house the Michael Graves School of Architecture on Kean’s Wenzhou China campus.

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