Princeton NJ-based architect Michael Graves designed over 350 buildings and some 2000 everyday products in his lifetime – from laundry hampers to a whistling teakettle, from luxury goods for Alessi to Target populist offerings — before his recent death at age 80. He piqued my interest when, in the last interview a week before his death, Graves named Amsterdam and Rotterdam (both in the Netherlands) as two of the best cities for design. New York Times obituary
In the coming months, we’ll show you why Graves was so right, with visits by Green News Update to the watery country. The port city of Rotterdam (largest port in Europe) features stunning examples of how this city – largely destroyed in World War II — has been refashioned with innovative skyscrapers, the Entrepot Design District, old warehouses made into residences and restaurants, new, efficient subway and tram system, a beautiful train station and the new Markthal (we wrote about in October 2014 Green News Update).
In Amsterdam, urban planners and preservationists are helping this city of 800,000 stretch into former industrial areas and islands north of the city. There’s an amazing array of new and recent buildings — such as the Film Museum and the Musikverein—as well as several billion euros’ worth of museum makeovers. The Oosterdok Islands feature 18th-century warehouses now reused as offices and apartment.
The innovators at Droog Design have created the Design Droog Hotel on fashionable Stalstraat with retail, yoga studio, café, funky garden and just one hotel room.
Thank you Michael Graves, for a lifetime well spent in the service of good design– and the gracious shout-out to the Dutch design and arts community. We’ll share multiple examples of Dutch innovations in architecture, parks, museum makeovers and more in the next few months.