Michael Graves, architect noted for Disney collaborations, dies at 80

Disney Corp. headquarters in Burbank, designed by Michael Graves, who has died at 80.
(George Rose / Getty Images)

Michael Graves, the prolific architect and designer whose Postmodern imprint can be found on a number of notable buildings, including Disney corporate headquarters in Burbank, as well as a range of consumer products such as his popular housewares for Target, has died. He was 80.

Graves died suddenly on Thursday at his home in Princeton, N.J., of natural causes, his firm announced on its website. Since 2003, Graves had been largely confined to a wheelchair after being paralyzed from a spinal infection.

As an architect, Graves created buildings that were by turns grand yet accessible, often featuring bold geometric patterns and solid colors.


Some of his most notable designs were created for Disney. He designed the company’s Burbank headquarters -- an office complex behemoth that visually references the Parthenon. It was unveiled in 1990 and is notable for incorporating giant sculptural likenesses of the dwarfs from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Graves worked on other Disney properties, including the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla., and the Disney Hotel New York in Disneyland Paris.

His other work includes the Portland Building in Oregon and the Humana Building in Louisville, Ky.

In architectural circles, Graves was noted for being a member of the New York Five, an informal group of architects who championed Modernism and whose members included Richard Meier, Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk and Peter Eisenman.

Graves founded his New Jersey firm in 1964 and taught at Princeton for years. An architecture school named after him at Kean University in New Jersey was announced last year.

Graves’ many honors include a National Medal of Arts bestowed by President Clinton in 1999. His firm said that plans for a public memorial that will be held in Princeton will be announced in the near future.

A full obituary will appear at

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