Michael Graves Wins Notre Dame’s Driehaus Prize

“Get smart. Go to the library. Don’t read magazines.” Such was Michael Graves’ advice to young architects last month during a panel at “Reconsidering Postmodernism,” a real doozy of a conference organized by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art in New York. It was Graves’ way of encouraging a broad-based, historically informed approach at a time when “object buildings” and torqued shapes make headlines but not, in his view, an architecture of the city. “Can’t we call this Gaga architecture?” he asked. “Lady Gaga has a different dress everytime we see her.” (To which fellow panelist Paul Goldberger replied, “I did once refer to Zaha Hadid as the Lady Gaga of architecture.”) Graves has plenty of fans at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, which has announced that he is the winner of the 2012 Richard H. Driehaus Prize, established in 2003 to honor “lifetime contributions to traditional, classical, and sustainable architecture and urbanism in the modern world.” Members of the jury (which included Goldberger, Witold Rybczynski, and Adele Chatfield-Taylor, president of the American Academy in Rome) commended Graves’ “commitment to the traditional city—in its human scale, complexity, and vitality—as emblematic of a time-tested sustainability.” He’ll receive $200,000 and a bronze miniature of the Choregic Monument of Lysikrates during a March 24 ceremony in Chicago. The Driehaus Prize has previously been awarded to wizards of classicism such as Robert A.M. Stern, Allan Greenberg, and Demetri Porphyrios.