Obit-Michael Graves

Architect and designer Michael Graves sits in his Princeton, N.J., studio on Sept. 11, 2009, holding a bathtub handle he designed to help the handicapped and elderly. Graves, whose works include Johnstown’s Crown American building, has died in New Jersey. He was 80 years old.

The architect who designed the Crown American building in downtown Johnstown more than two decades ago died Thursday.

Michael Graves, of Princeton, New Jersey, was 80.

The $27 million edifice opened in 1989.

Mark Pasquerilla, chief executive officer of Pasquerilla Enterprises in Johnstown, whose late father, Frank Pasquerilla, commissioned the building, said Graves was a good friend of his family.

When Graves was commissioned to do the building in Johnstown, he represented the architectural movement – classicism – and its beauty, color and architecture of Rome and Greece, Pasquerilla said.

“Instantly, our building became internationally famous and was featured in the Japanese publication, G&A,” Pasquerilla said.

“Michael related to my father because they both had Midwestern values and both had an appreciation for the beauty of Rome and classical architecture.

“My father very much wanted a headquarters that resembled a cathedral or a palace rather than a laboratory.

“One final secret about the Crown building is that the inner executive wing of the Crown offices are a large-scale model of his (Graves’) home in Princeton.”

In 2003, Graves became paralyzed by an unknown virus.

“As Michael re-engineered his life to overcome his condition, he because an inspiration to all who knew him,” Pasquerilla said.

Frank Sojak is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5058. Follow him on Twitter @FrankNews10.

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