“Negro music has touched America because it is the melody of the soul joined with the rhythm of the machine. It is in two part time; tears in the heart; movement of the legs, torso arms and head. The music of the era of construction; innovating. It floods the body and heart; it floods the USA and its floods the world. The jazz is more advanced than the architecture. If architecture were at the point reached by jazz, it would be an incredible spectacle.”  – Le Corbusier

As a catalyst, the above quote ignited years of research, eventually leading to the development of Mike Ford’s University of Detroit Mercy Graduate Thesis, “Hip Hop Inspired Architecture.”   In short, the thesis established a framework for analyzing the developments of multiple cultural architectural styles and then assimilating these precedents within the proposed creation of a Hip Hop inspired architecture.  By first understanding the evolution of each cultural architecture separately, one perceives how Le Corbusier’s musings on music and architecture suggested the evolution from jazz towards a Hip Hop Culture.  While Le Corbusier should not be credited with laying the foundation of the Hip-Hop culture, his physical and theoretical works indirectly contributed both positively and negatively to the Hip Hop culture.  Within this body of research, Mike further explored the cultural and professional significance in implementing the Hip-Hop culture into the field of architecture.  Johann von Goethe said, “I call architecture frozen music.”  My thesis sought to freeze the most socially and culturally recognizable music in the world, Hip Hop.

As a post-graduate who blurs the threshold between academia and professional practice, Mike Ford continued the exploration of Le Corbusier and his impact, directly and indirectly, on African Americans In 2008, the PennDesign Black Student Alliance sponsored a conference entitled, “Ecologies of Inequality”, at the University of Pennsylvania.  Their goal, “to provide a critical opportunity to explore the nexus between race, space and class and to confront latent biases that may enter into design practice and experiences”, further inspired the re-working of my previous research into an appropriately relevant presentation proposal.  Ultimately, the proposal was chosen for publication and then summarized in the Cultural Heirarchies Chapter of the “UNSPOKEN BORDERS 09 : Ecologies of Inequality” journal.  As stated in the journal’s introduction, all of the included projects and publications “emphasize that race, class and cultural issues matter to the work of designers. These issues are at times the harbinger of failed systems. Through the perspectives of theory and experiences of practice, we seek to spark an ongoing conversation about design’s impact on our world. As designers, we have a unique responsibility to rethink existing systems and created ecologies of equality.”