Hip Hop Architecture Camp Connects D.C. Youth to Futures in Urban Planning

D.C. youth collaborate with local hip hop artists to create planning inspired music video.

1 minute read

April 23, 2019, 10:00 AM PDT

By Lee Flannery @leecflannery


The inaugural session of Hip Hop Architecture Camp, founded by architectural designer Michael Ford, culminated in February with the release of a song and music video crafted by camp participants. "A dozen D.C. middle school students—aged 11 to 13—attended the camp, which took place at the American Institute of ArchitectsDistrict Architecture Center in Penn Quarter," reports Andrew Giambrone. The group utilized the expertise of local design professionals and developed an understanding of "how to sketch and create 3D models using Tinkercad, an online design tool."

With the goal of introducing D.C. youth to architecture and urban planning, campers collaborated with Richmond, Virginia native and rapper Destiny Da Chef to compose and record lyrics to be judged by Howard University students. Their verses tackled themes of gentrification, a lack of diversity within the field, and the students' own personal ties to the city. "Ford wrote the hook," notes Giambrone, "an allusion to the relatively small number of licensed African-American architects in the U.S.: 'Build it up / 2 percent / That ain't what up / We gotta find a way.'"

Thanks to funding from organizations including the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, Hip Hop Architecture Camp is free to youth and offers several week-long intensives in cities across the United States in 2019.

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