Friday, 25 July, 2014

Published July 18, 2014
Wider design focus for Michael Graves
Now relying on a wheelchair to get around, the distinguished US architect creates buildings for survivors, reports BARBARA SADICK
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He cares: Mr Graves says people need 'buildings, rooms and objects that are easy to use and understand'. (above) His Wounded Warriors Home Project in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. - MICHAEL GRAVES AND ASSOCIATES WEBSITE/FILE PHOTO


IN 2003, Michael Graves had just returned home from a business trip to Germany and Switzerland. He wasn't feeling well and told colleagues at his architectural firm that he was leaving early to go home and rest.

By the next morning, Mr Graves - one of America's most prominent architects and designers - was fighting for his life against a mysterious virus. It was not until two years later, after treatment in eight hospitals and four rehab centres, that he finally got back to work - paralysed from the chest down and needing to use a wheelchair.

This story is not about the virus or his rehab, but about what Mr Graves has done with the rest of his life: design hospitals and rehab centres for people like himself, for wounded soldiers and for others facing huge physical challenges. Most of what exists now for such people, he says, is just too depressing to even die in.