Hip Hop Is the Hook For Architecture Camp Aimed at Improving Diversity in Industry

It’s not mere hyperbole — the worlds of architecture, urban planning, and construction are lacking in representation of people of color.

In fact, the American Institute of Architect’s 2016 “Diversity in the Profession of Architecture” found that the one thing most architects — regardless of race — could agree on was that people of color are underrepresented in that field. Similar studies have found the same is true in urban planning and construction.

(graph courtesy AIA)

Interestingly, just about every discussion in all three industries regarding diversity involves strengthening the industry’s presence among students through outreach programs with high schools, etc.

Michael Ford, a Detroit-based architect, brought the whole issue of diversity to the forefront with a 20 minute TED Talk last year. In his talk, he uses lyrics in hip-hop songs to show how they can serve as a very effective way to evaluate the good and bad of modern urban architecture.

That TED Talk spawned Hip Hop Architecture Camp, which uses the same hook — hip-hop songs — to help create an interest in architecture, design, and urban planning as a career.

And now, that camp is coming to Dallas. From Oct. 6 to Nov. 3, area middle school students can attend the hands-on, interactive camp, which culminates in a musical interpretation and video shoot.

Along the way, the camp (which is offered free of charge) will engage students in a curriculum that combines architecture and urban planning practice with hip-hop music and culture.

But the event hosts — DFW Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), LPA Inc., and Praxis — do need volunteers and monetary assistance. Organizers say they need seven to 10 volunteers each Saturday of the camp (you don’t have to volunteer for all five dates). Training will be provided.

The camp is free for each student, but the approximate cost per student is $250. “Autodesk is a national partner and has provided a large portion of the camp content and technology,” organizers said, but to offset local costs, they have developed sponsorship opportunities ranging from $250 to $1,000.

Forty students will be selected for the program based on their scored applications. “Ideally, we would like to reach students in Southern and West Dallas to provide an opportunity for them to gain early exposure to a viable career path while dispelling assumptions about the industry,” organizers said.

The camp will be offered every Saturday from Oct. 6 to Nov. 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Juanita Craft Recreation Center at 4500 Spring Ave., Dallas. To apply, click here. For sponsorship information, click here. To volunteer, click here.

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