Michael Graves, left, with fellow Alter Hall architects Tom Rowe, center, and Michael Crackel.
Michael Graves, left, with fellow Alter Hall architects Tom Rowe, center, and Michael Crackel.

Michael Graves, the postmodern architect whose work includes Alter Hall, the home of Temple University’s Fox School of Business, died March 12. He was 80.

Michael Graves & Associates Architecture & Design, Graves’ architectural firm based in Princeton, N.J., designed Alter Hall with assistance of local architects Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates. Dedicated in 2009, the eight-floor, state-of-the-art building is one of the most-sophisticated business school facilities in the nation.

Graves’ team designed Fox School’s home to foster collaboration and connectivity among students and faculty, with soaring common areas, open staircases and ample meeting space. Alter Hall features a 4,200-square-foot student lounge, a 274-seat sloped auditorium, and a three-story atrium.

“Alter Hall was designed to be as dynamic and vibrant as our school community, and Michael Graves and his team were at the forefront of that design,” said Fox School Dean M. Moshe Porat. “Michael’s creativity and innovation rendered an indelible impression on our campus. It was with great regret to learn of Michael’s passing, and our thoughts at this time are with his family, friends and colleagues.”

Alter Hall ExteriorGraves’ architectural designs, which employed a menagerie of colors, symbolism and shapes, first took hold in the 1980s. His work, which inspired a generation of architects and popularized a form of design that’s still being used today, includes: the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World; the Philadelphia Eagles’ NovaCare Complex practice facility; and the U.S. Parks Service’s Washington Monument Restoration.

More than an architect, Graves also was an interior designer and product designer. He’s perhaps most-famously known for his collaboration with Target, for which he helped design the retailer’s “cheap chic” reputation with decorative-yet-affordable housewares and home goods.

Graves also served as a professor of architecture for 39 years at Princeton University. According to multiple published reports, he died of natural causes.

Alter Hall Atrium“Of all his accomplishments, Michael often said that, like his own family, his proudest creation was his firm,” the firm said in a statement. “As we go forward in our practice, we will continue to honor Michael’s humanistic design philosophy through our commitment to creative unique design solutions that transform people’s lives.”

On Tuesday, February 24, IEI’s Executive Director, Ellen Weber, led a “Pitch Decks” workshop discussing the components and expectations of a pitch deck to prepare those who are competing in the BYOBB business plan competition. The presentation took place in Fox’s IEI Lab from 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Beginning the presentation, Ellen defined a pitch deck as “a six-to-eight minute presentation with an investor focus that grabs early attention and holds attention by hitting highlights of your business plan, leaving the investor eager to know more.” When someone likes your pitch, it increases your chances of getting your business plan read. For instance, if you do a great job with your pitch deck, the judges will be more favorably disposed while reading your business plan. 

Regarding the pitch deck PowerPoint presentation, it is important the presenter’s slides speak for his/her product or service. If the slides fail to tell a story, students should create a narration deck to include their notes from their note section to help the pitch deck flow. Remember, don’t just tell the business plan, share the business plan so the judges can see it and have a feel for it. A personal tip Ellen suggested to students was to create an appendix slide so BYOBB participants are prepared if a judge asks a question, the participant can go directly to that slide to answer the judge’s question.

Out of all of your PowerPoint slides, the financials slide is most important. This is because judges can get a sense of how you think as an entrepreneur by seeing a three year financial projection and history. By showing your revenues, expenses and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization), the judges can learn when you think growth or break-even may occur in your business. Keep in mind to never include decimals in your financials!

At the very end of your presentation, do not have a slide simply saying, “Thank You.” The last slide will stay up for judges to look at during the Q&A so it is essential to leave a lasting impression by ending with a summary slide of reasons why to invest in your company. Also, don’t forget to have your contact information listed in the beginning and end of the presentation because if someone sends your pitch deck to someone else, and you have no contact information listed, you may have lost yourself a major opportunity.

BYOBB judges will also pay extreme attention to how well the students know, understand and care about competition. Ellen advised, “The more you can differentiate your product or service, the better. The more you know about your competitors, the better. It is okay to have your competition do some things your company can’t do because this is how you show which niche you are going for.”

Overall, do what is best for you and your company. Make your story compelling, keep it simple and short, cover all of the necessary info, and show what the product looks like. Be passionate, entrepreneurial, honest and coachable. Don’t get discouraged by constructive criticism; do your homework and listen and accept negative feedback, as it will only help you in the long-run.

As a reminder, there will be On Demand Mentoring sessions on March 10 (5 p.m.) and March 11 (12 p.m.) for BYOBB participants to receive feedback from senior executives on the financials, strategy, marketing, and other challenging sections of their business plans. Both sessions will take place in Alter Hall’s IEI Lab, room 503D.

To learn more about how to create a successful pitch deck, visit Be sure to stay connected with the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute to get the latest updates on workshops and events on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.