Towards a Hip Hop Architecture: Syracuse University


Hip-hop—including its four elements: deejaying, emceeing, breakdancing, and graffiti— has evolved to become one of the most pervasive, diverse, and profitable phenomena in today’s society. As artists like Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, and Kanye West begin to expand their creative influence into the built environment, hip-hop is on the verge of assimilating architecture into its identity—the fifth element.

This symposium explores a wide range of questions. Does hip-hop architecture, however it is defined, exist?  If so, who are its practitioners? Is there an architectural image or a style that reflects hip-hop ideals? Is there a formal language or organizational structure that it should employ?  Or is there a process and attitude towards design that will separate hip-hop from conventional architectural practice?

Participants will include historians, theorists, practitioners, and others from the hip-hop, visual art, and architecture communities. Through a series of presentations and panel discussions, the event will identify any formal, aesthetic or structural principles of hip-hop architecture, and locate them within contemporary discourse. A series of “provocations” (references to architecture or urbanism in hip-hop lyrics, and references to hip-hop culture within architectural writing) will also be presented during “freestyle sessions” that generate new kinds of responses to the questions above.

Organized by

Sekou Cooke, RA

Supported by

Syracuse University School of Architecture
Syracuse University Division of Student Affairs
The Society of Multicultural Architects and Designers (SMAD)


Rashida Bumbray
Lawrence Chua
Sekou Cooke
Michael Ford
James Garrett Jr.
Travis Gosa
Andres Hernandez
Lekan Jeyifous
Shawn Rickenbacker
Héctor Tarrido-Picart
Jack Travis
Craig Wilkins
Amanda Williams