Michael Coyle

Michael Coyle

Washington, DC, US


St.Louis Center of American Hip-Hop Culture

On arrival to the Center of American Hip-Hop Culture there is a massive black wall slicing the building in half. This wall is a bearing wall and provides a significant support for the buildings structure. Also, it represents the connection between the elements of the Diaspora and the elements of Hip-Hop as well as the ever growing dynamic of the culture as the wall stands higher than any other element. The building is organized in a way that provides a timeline ranging from the beginning of the Afro Diaspora and continues thru contemporary Hip Hop culture. Pedestrians enter off of North Jefferson Avenue on a declined ramp. Sandwiched between a series of arrayed columns and a series of seemingly random placed columns, visitors are walking through a symbolic path of the black culture and the foundations of Hip-Hop culture. The arrayed column shows a linear movement from Africa to the Americas. However, the randomly placed columns are representative of the cultures that have impacted the movement of the black culture creating a jagged path shown in the wooden and grass covered canopy. The experience continues along the curvilinear walls of the Afro Diaspora exhibit that opens up as a darker space with shadows casting down from the skylight and artificial light from the floor above. Each floor has a stacking reception area placed in front of the elevators. The ground floor provides an exhibit on Urban Renewal in St. Louis describing how it affected the black population. On the same level there is a gift shop leading into the 'Center‘s Café‘ with an outdoor patio looking over the exterior auditorium space. There is also an interior auditorium space that uses pivoting walls to view the exterior space. After traversing through the alternate exhibit visitors enter the Exhibit of the Hip-Hop arts. After traveling the movement of the Diaspora pedestrians exit on a decline ramp that is facing the intersection of North Jefferson Avenue and Cass Avenue looking into the city that is undergoing a large transformation through development.
In the end (of the semester), I have found that the spaces in the building may need to incorporate more spatial exploration. These explorations would incorporate a similar technique that was used on the elevation involving the layering of each performance space to provide a strong connection between them. At the moment they are completely separate spaces. Also more perspectives should be added to help illustrate the spaces in the center.
Though the project could use more improvement, it has been a great example of Hip-Hop Architecture and may appear on the American landscape in the near future.

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Status: School Project
Location: St.Louis, MO