The Center for Architecture’s latest exhibition in New York City, Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture, combines 20 years of research on a movement that’s barely been covered before and is at the cusp of exploding. Hip-hop architecture, the movement on view, could become the next big design style despite historically being a lesser-known development compared to the global impact of hip-hop culture on music, film, and dance industries. By tackling issues such as hip-hop's role in identity and placemaking, Syracuse University professor Sekou Cooke curated a special exhibition that details the theoretical and physical rise of hip-hop architecture in the built environment and how it can inform a more inclusive design practice for the future. Now showing in New York through January 12, this comprehensive exhibit unveils the work of 21 architects, professors, and students who have imagined architecture as a distinct part of hip-hop’s cultural expression. The show chronicles these figures through history, starting with the “godfather of hip-hop architecture,” Nate Williams, who completed his thesis on the subject at Cornell University in 1993. Also on display is the work of Boris “DELTA” Tellegen of Heren 5, artists Olalekan Jeyifous and Lauren Halsey, and more. Layered behind the images, drawings, and models in the show is extensive tagging done solely in black by pioneering graffiti artist David “Chino” Villorente. Complemented by graphic design from WeShouldDoItAll, the graffiti brings a visual punch to the Center’s main gallery spaces and transforms their walls into a medium for cultural commentary. Repurposed shipping containers painted white are bolted to the walls, providing another layer of backdrop for the framed artwork. Not only is the exhibit eye candy for visitors and passersby, it also includes audio and video components of lectures, podcasts, and hip-hop music reflecting on the built environment. At Monday’s opening reception, Barry Bergdoll, the new board president of the Center, called Close to the Edge a “landmark exhibition” for the movement of hip-hop architecture and compared it to Philip Johnson’s seminal Modern Architecture International Exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1932. That exhibition drew wide praise and helped usher in the International Style in the United States—something similar to what Cooke and his team hopes will come out of this effort. The Center will host the Hip-Hop Architecture Symposium on Saturday, October 6 from 1 to 6 p.m., moderated by Cooke, as well as a workshop with BlackSpace that will explore architecture as a tool for Black cultural preservation.
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New York City’s eighth annual Archtober, a month-long design festival hosted by the Center for Architecture, will begin Monday, October 1, with Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture, an exhibition exploring hip-hop culture’s impact on the built environment. “Over the last five decades, hip-hop’s primary means of expression—deejaying, emceeing, b-boying, and graffiti—have become globally recognized creative practices in their own right,” reads the graffiti-tagged press release. “Hip-Hop Architecture produces spaces, buildings, and environments that embody the creative energy evident in these means of hip-hop expression.” Close to the Edge, which was curated by Sekou Cooke, an assistant professor at Syracuse University’s School of Architecture, is the first exhibition dedicated to the hip-hop architecture movement. It will include projects by a diverse group of architects, academics, and students presented alongside paintings by legendary graffiti artist David “Chino BYI” Villorente. The opening will also feature extended hours with a live DJ performance. According to Cooke, the exhibition is not meant to identify hip-hop architecture as a particular style of building, although he welcomes debate from those who disagree, but it is meant to show how architecture can embrace the culture of hip-hop to become a more inclusive and constructive practice. “I want people to come who may not even know what hip-hop is,” Cooke told The Architect's Newspaper. “When people hear ‘hip-hop architecture’ they imagine buildings that are dancing to a specific genre of music, but hip-hop culture goes much deeper than that. It’s really about having people consider the work that they do in a more humanistic way, so that they’re thinking about the people that their work is affecting, the culture of the people they’re working for, and the ways a typically marginalized group of people sculpt their built environment as architecture.” Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture will be on view through January 12, 2019, at the Center for Architecture in New York City. The exhibition will be accompanied by speaking events, panel discussions, and workshops by BlackSpace and the AIANY.
New renderings by Mike Ford (a.k.a. the Hip-Hop Architect) of BrandNu Design depict the Universal Hip-Hop Museum (UHHM) that could grace the Bronx in the very near future. Although the idea for the museum has been germinating for a few years, this is the first time renderings are available for a specific site. The renderings depict a museum—complete with interactive exhibitions and a screening room—at the site of the Bronx Borough Courthouse, a disused neoclassical 1930s municipal building. The courthouse plaza features an amphitheater centered around a sculpture. As the birthplace of hip-hop, the Bronx is a natural choice for the UHHM, which would be the first standalone museum devoted to the genre, its history, heritage, and the culture the music nurtures. The museum was originally intended as one point in the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment plan, Ford told Curbed. The courthouse became the site at the urging of state assemblyman Michael Blake, who thought that the museum would be a great focal point for his district. With support from hip-hop pioneers like Ice T. and Kurtis Blow, Ford teamed up with Autodesk for a three-day design charette with industry leaders, locals, students, and program partners to craft a preliminary vision of the museum Right now, the UHHM is speaking with state and local officials to determine how much funding could be available for the museum. The Bronx is one of the poorest counties in the state, and the museum could be a vital source of jobs for the borough. Stakeholders are discussing the possibility of negotiating a long term lease of the courthouse for the museum.
What can you do with a vacant lot? Urban activists in Louisville have set out to show just how much with an ongoing pop-up festival of sorts at 615-621 West Main Street, an empty plot of land in the heart of downtown where REX's Museum Plaza skyscraper was once set to rise. They're calling it ReSurfaced. The mission is to repurpose a downtown lot as “an urban laboratory for innovation, community gather, and as an entertainment venue, showcasing our local creativity, breweries, and talent” for five weeks. Open Thursday through Sunday each week through October 25, ReSurfaced events include hip hop concerts, Shakespeare performances, puppet shows, a Pecha Kucha conversation, and a beer garden. According to the event's Facebook page, ReSurfaced is about “Transforming and activating our underutilized surface lots and vacant spaces to bring back the walkable urbanism Louisville once enjoyed.” Louisville has thousands of vacant lots, a problem that earlier this year prompted the city to launch "Lots of Possibility," a design competition sponsored by the mayor's office. Read more at ReSurfaced's website, where you can find a full schedule of events, and a full list of sponsors. They're also updating events from a Twitter account, @CityCollab.