In the months following that fated February night, there was much that propelled Graves through his recovery, including his resolve not to die in the hospital because it was “so ugly.” Having progressed through eight hospitals and four rehabilitation centers, the architect was all too familiar with the design failings of our healthcare system. On his first day in a wheelchair, Graves was given the challenge to dress and shave himself. “That was extraordinary for me,” he says. “I couldn’t turn on the water, I couldn’t plug in the razor, I couldn’t look in the mirror. And this is a hospital very well known for therapy. At that point I said to myself, ‘I am going to do something about this. I am a designer, I’m an architect; I’ve got the bully pulpit.’”One of Graves most notable building projects is located in the city where I live. The Portland Building in the center of Portland stands as a testament to the architects ability to reinvent the way we look at the world around us. I have often thought that the building hinted of Walt Disney and Ayn Rand. It is just so unusually I cannot help but smile when I look at it. Long time Portlanders are still getting used to it's appearance.
But for me Graves was so much more. He somehow knew that we all need beauty no matter where we are. An elderly person should not be subjected to "ugly" in their home and certainly not in a hospital or care facility. Humor, color, unique design go a long way in helping the healing process.