Kean University, home of the nascent Michael Graves College for architecture and design, has received permission from its board of trustees to purchase three of Graves’s properties in Princeton, N.J. — including his residence and studio, the Warehouse — for $20.
Graves, a prolific architect, a standard-bearer of postmodernism in the 1980s and a popularizer of designer versions of teakettles and other everyday objects, died last year. Through his will, he donated the properties to Princeton University, his neighbor and longtime employer.
But Princeton rejected the gift.
“We were grateful to be able to consider the possibility of accepting Michael Graves’s properties, but concluded that we could not meet the terms and conditions associated with the gift,” the university said in a statement.
Among those “terms and conditions” were preserving the houses and making them fit for educational purposes — a cost that Kean said it was willing to take on. Dawood Farahi, Kean’s president, said that annual maintenance was estimated at $30,000 to $40,000, and retrofitting the buildings for student use would cost about $300,000. The three properties were appraised for a total value of nearly $3.2 million.
Graves’s firm first approached Kean, which is between Princeton and New York City in Union, N.J., about purchasing the properties this year. His will stated that if Princeton did not accept the gift, it would be offered to another nonprofit. Kean was a logical choice: Graves spent the last years of his life working with the university to create its new architecture program, which admitted its inaugural class last fall. […]