ARCH 4509/6509
Signature Style

Graphite drawing on a paper model.

Visiting Michael’s Grave (1984), by Chibbernoonie, a re-representation of Domestic Landscape, drawdel, graphite on paper model.

  • Instructor: Mark Acciari
  • Time: T 2:30–4:25 p.m.
  • Location: 144 East Sibley Hall
  • Credits: 3
  • Territory of Investigation: Architecture and Representation

In 1985, Michael Graves Architecture and Design began work on a series of projects for the Walt Disney Corporation. The commissions involved the design of not just the buildings (a headquarters and three resort hotels), but hundreds of complimentary design objects ranging from wallpaper, rugs, and murals, to furniture, flatware, and souvenirs. While certainly an example of design in service of commercialism — a role we should be reluctant to condone — the explosion of creative production that the Disney commissions prompted should not be overlooked. Michael Graves Architecture and Design was able to apply their distinctive style — developed over the course of nearly 25 years of practice — to an externally provided theme, as a methodology for producing an immersive architectural environment. In short, the marriage of the Michael Graves Brand and the Disney Corporation Brand produced a prolific amount of work that served to strengthen each corporation's visual identity.

In the first quarter of the semester, students will be assigned a "starchitect" (e.g. Michael Graves, Zaha Hadid, Liz Diller, Frank Gehry, etc.) and, through a series of exercises, re-represent their signature styles through an alternative medium — for example, Grave's yellow tracing paper sketches get translated into renderings or Zaha's paintings translated into models. For the second quarter of the semester, after establishing an understanding of the signature styles of their given starchitect, students will pair their starchitect with a large corporation (e.g. Disney, Nike, Planet Fitness, McDonalds, Whole Foods, etc.) and re-represent the same precedent images with the added theme of their corporate brand. During the final half of the semester, students will develop their own signature representational style and pair it with a fictional corporation of their own making. The final review will take the form of an advertisement for the starchitect-corporation collaboration. The seminar's goal is to provide a platform for students to construct a unique design identity and working methodology, characteristic style, and personal brand.

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