The people’s place

Creating a forum for civil public discourse strengthens communal society

Representative government, representational architecture

We think that architectural character is especially important for governmental projects since they represent their community and its institutions, whether at local, state, or federal levels. Civic architecture may convey governmental stability and dignity, balanced by the openness associated with democracy. Character also emanates from the context, whether monumental Washington, D.C. or a small town in the South, creating a fresh sense of the people’s place without needing to go back in time stylistically.

Fred D. Thompson Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, Nashville, Tennessee
Department of Transportation, Washington, DC

Reciprocal relationships:
the civic campus

We love that “campus” comes from the Latin word for “field,” implying that an ensemble of buildings relates to surrounding open space, whether hard urban surfaces or landscape. The model may be as simple as creating an urban forecourt to a new federal courthouse in Nashville or distributing components of a municipal complex or a U.S. Embassy throughout a public park. And then there is the paradigm of the U.S. Capitol placed by its planner Pierre Charles L’Enfant on the highest piece of land, and surrounded by Frederick Law Olmsted’s landscape, arranged to defer to the symbolic and actual prominence of the building and its dome.


Industry Leaders

Connect with our leaders in the government industry. Learn more by clicking on each.

Matt Ligas

Principal, Design Practice Leader
Washington, DC | Contact

Tom Rowe

Principal, Design Practice Leader
New Jersey | Contact

let's chat

Reach out to us and we would be excited
to help you start your next project.

©2023 Michael Graves. All Rights Reserved.


Matt has made a deep dive into the government sector, primarily at the federal level. Though his earliest work was primarily overseas, including a U.S. embassy in Korea, his relocation to Washington, DC has pivoted him toward making a difference in planning and building our nation’s capital.

Tom Rowe, AIA

Tom has designed courthouses and federal office buildings in GSA’s Design Excellence program, as well as numerous public buildings for institutions such as the World Bank Group and the Federal Reserve, as well as renovations of historic government buildings in Washington, DC.