Melissa grew up in Alabama, where imagining life as a “professional dollhouse designer” set her on a course to study architecture at Auburn University.  After spending time in New York City, her travels eventually landed Melissa in Portland as an interior design ace for our team. The dollhouses are much bigger now than the those from her childhood, but you’ll still find that playful inspiration at the heart of her work.

In her own words, architecture is about being innately human and drawing from your own experience of space and design as you create for others.  When not coordinating the many fabric, lighting, or fixture decisions that bring a project to life, she can be found adventuring around town with her dog, Maple.  Learn more about Melissa below!

Name & Title at Emerick Architects

Melissa Graveline – Interior Architect

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on at Emerick? Why?

The Lake Oswego Retreat – It had great mid-century modern bones to begin with but was fun to modernize the house while working within the framework of existing details and spaces. We really pushed the interior design scope and it was a constant learning experience. The client and contractor made for a great team.

What’s your favorite thing about being an architect?

A lot of knowledge and skill of being an architect is learned in school or in the profession, but a good portion comes from being inherently human. We create spaces that people live and work and shop and relax, so a lot of choices we make come from our own experiences with the built environment. There is a lot more intuition involved than I would have thought.

Why did you become an architect? Was it something you always wanted to do?

When I was 10 or 11, I went to a dollhouse expo with my mom. I had zero interest in dolls but was in love with the houses. “Professional dollhouse designer” wasn’t really a viable career option, but once I figured out what an architect did, I set my sights on that path and never wavered.

What’s one type of project you’ve never worked on but would like to?

Boutique hotel

What’s the first thing you would buy for yourself if you won the lottery?

Private chef. I like food but planning and executing three meals a day, every single day is such a drag. What a luxury to have someone else do it ten times better than I can!

What’s the next place you would like to travel to?

Mexico City

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Take Puppy Maple for a walk

If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I grew up in Alabama where there is a Chick-fil-a on every corner. Their chicken biscuit is my favorite. You can get it here in Portland but you just have to try a little harder so it’s reserved for special occasions.

Beach or mountains?


What’s the number one place you recommend to eat in Portland?

McMenamins Kennedy School – the food is mediocre but the experience more than makes up for it.

What’s one thing you think everyone should try in their lives?

Travel. There isn’t enough empathy in the world, so the more people can get outside their house/town/state/country to interact with people different from themselves the better.

How do you relax after a long day at work?

Glass of wine and a funny TV show

Bike or car?

Bike. After living in NYC for many years, I’ve only driven a handful of times in the past decade and have gotten very out of practice. I try to bike or take public transportation whenever I can.

Favorite curse word.

Sh*t. I’m a pretty big prude in the language department but this is a good outlet when I mess something up/drop something/stub my toe—which seems to happen a lot.

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