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Michael Ford

Michael Ford, Assoc. AIA, is known as The Hip Hop Architect as he explores architecture and urban planning through the lens of hip hop culture. Ford, is the creator of The Hip Hop Architecture Camp®, an international, award winning youth camp which uses Hip Hop Culture as a catalyst to help youth understand, critique, and generate architecture. Ford’s work has been featured in a variety of places including The Oprah Winfrey Network, The TODAY Show, Rolling Stone Magazine, ESPN’s The Undefeated, and Vibe Magazine. Ford is also a highly regarded speaker with keynotes at The American Institute of Architects National Conference, South by Southwest Eco Conference, and a TEDx titled “Hip Hop Architecture as Modernism’s Post Occupancy Evaluation.” 



TEDX: Hip Hop Architecture: The Post Occupancy Report of Modernism

For more than a year, Ford, a longtime hip-hop fan with a master’s degree in architecture, has led sessions like this around the country. (Ford has planned nearly 20 sessions nationwide this year.) The idea for the camp came from a simple insight made while Ford was in graduate school at the University of Detroit: “Less than three percent of architects in America are African American,” he explains. “We’ve spent a ton of money trying to diversity the profession, but it’s always from the same perspective: Come learn this western culture. Come learn about the Greeks and the Romans. It’s not making it relevant.” The tendency to emphasize the importance of certain models – Greek but not Egyptian, for example – means “we’ve experienced the world through a limited lens,” Ford says.

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"It's about more than just a building. It's about the people, the community and literally making something out of nothing. The goal for us is not only to get more students of color invested in those careers but also to reimagine themselves –and reimagine what their world can look like." 

In this SuperSoul Short Film presented by American Family Insurance, watch how Mike Ford is fusing his passions of hip-hop music and architecture to inspire young people of color to think critically and dream fearlessly about their neighborhoods and their communities.