What Is Hip Hop Architecture?

Hip Hop has established itself as a gravitas culture that crosses borders of race, ethnicity, class, and religion. Members of the Hip Hop Generation carry the residue of the culture into all spaces they inhabit and their individual works are seasoned with the flavor of hip hop and architecture is not exempt.

Hip Hop Architecture explores the intersection of Hip Hop culture and the built environment through three interconnected realms; media, professional practice, and academia. The goal of Hip Hop Architecture is to increase the number of underrepresented populations in the practice of architecture while simultaneously creating a new approach to architecture and design, one based on the Hip Hop's founding elements (DJ, Emcee, Graffiti and B-Boy/ B-Girl). Hip Hop Architecture is a manifestation of the widely accepted fifth element of Hip Hop, Knowledge.

Hip Hop Architecture 101 - Pre Order

Book Description:
Hip Hop has established itself as a gravitas culture which crosses borders of race, ethnicity, class, and religion. Members of the Hip Hop Generation carry the residue of the culture into all spaces they inhabit and their individual works are seasoned with the flavor of hip hop, and architecture is not exempt.

Hip Hop Architecture 101 explores the intersection of Hip Hop culture and the built environment through three interconnected realms; media, professional practice, and academia. The goal of Hip Hop Architecture is to increase the number of underrepresented populations in the practice of architecture while simultaneously creating a new approach to architecture and design, one based on the Hip Hop's founding elements (DJ, Emcee, Graffiti and B-Boy/ B-Girl). Hip Hop Architecture is a manifestation of the widely accepted fifth element of Hip Hop, Knowledge.

Hip Hop Architecture 101 is based on Michael Ford's national Hip Hop Architecture Lecture Tour and includes interviews with legendary hip hop artists, architectural practitioners, and academics.


" Life in the so-called inner city has always been a major theme in hip-hop. From the desolate state of the Bronx Projects described in Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” to the poor conditions in parts of Brooklyn and Queens recounted by artists like Jay Z, Biggie, and Nas, rappers have used their music to offer a glimpse into urban spaces across the United States. For decades, they’ve used verses and hooks to allude to the relationship between hip-hop and architecture — overcrowded, dilapidated towers have been the backdrop of the genre since its inception. But that relationship is more significant than it appears to be, says Michael Ford, whose pioneering research in the field of hip-hop-inspired architecture has earned him a fitting sobriquet: The Hip-Hop Architect."

- Alice Kemp Habib, The Fader


"This is the same as what we were doing with music in the park back in the day,” Rakim tells CityLab, “taking the history that surrounded us in everyday life, breaking it down and creating something new to express ourselves. We used music—the classics like James Brown, Carla Thomas, George Clinton. Ford uses bricks, mortar, lighting, and open space—but it's all about communicating how our culture is developing while remembering and paying homage to the past."

- Brentin Mock, Citylab interview with Rakim


"Hip-hop is often about place. And, according to designer Michael Ford, it is place—often poorly designed, underfunded, and cut off from the rest of the city through bad urban planning and structural racism—that birthed the genre. Ford, who has been tapped to design the forthcoming Universal Hip-Hop Museum in the Bronx, has helped coin the term “hip-hop architecture,” popularizing the concept as a lens for looking at the intersections of culture and the built environment."

- Patrick Sission, Curbed


"Michael Ford's Hip Hop Architecture Lecture at our National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) Symposium was by far one of the liveliest I have ever seen in over 30 years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's School of Architecture.  His winning combination of images, speech, and music kept students on the edges of their seats, tapping their feet, with their eyes wide open. It was fascinating to learn about the origins of some of the most well known hip hop performing artists in some of the nation's most troubled housing projects.  Michael Ford's unique interpretation has the ability to  draw the attention of a new generation to the power of architecture and design."

- Dr. Kathryn H. Anthony, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign


About the Author

Born and raised in Detroit, Michael Ford, The Hip Hop Architect, is the designer of The Universal Hip Hop Museum. He has dedicated his professional career to stimulating cross disciplinary discourse on the sociological and cultural implications of architecture and urban planning on its inhabitants. Focusing on the intersection of the built environment and hip hop culture, through three interconnected realms; academia, media and practice, Ford’s national Hip Hop Architecture lecture tour has included keynotes at The American Institute of Architects National Convention, South by Southwest Eco Conference and academic lectures at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University, and his alma matter University of Detroit Mercy, where he received his master’s degree in architecture.