Architect, educator, and curator Sekou Cooke is leaving New York for North Carolina. On March 23, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte announced that Cooke had been tapped to lead the public university’s Master of Urban Design (MUD) program.
“Sekou Cooke is a rising star in the architecture world and has a national reputation based on his innovative, activist-based approaches to elevating Black voices in the field,” School of Architecture director Blaine Brownell told Inside UNC Charlotte, which first announced the news. “With his hire as the new director of the Master of Urban Design program, we anticipate that his scholarship on hip-hop architecture and urbanism, pioneering installations like MoMA’s recent ‘Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America,’ accomplished teaching at one of the nation’s top architecture programs and prodigious leadership potential will contribute immeasurably to our school, college, University and the city of Charlotte.”
Cooke is currently an assistant professor in Syracuse University’s School of Architecture and will take over at UNC in August.
The Jamaican-born Cooke’s current research into hip-hop architecture, the intersection between hip-hop and placemaking and the implicit ability for it to give power to marginalized voices, was realized at the 2018 Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture exhibition at New York’s Center for Architecture, which he curated and designed. Cooke continues to write and lecture on the topic.
Most recently, Cooke’s work can be found on display at the Museum of Modern Art’s Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America exhibition. Racially motivated slum clearing and displacement in Syracuse in the guise of “urban renewal,” and the in-situ placemaking of the Black community there feature heavily into his project for the exhibition, titled We Outchea: Hip Hop Fabrications and Public Space. Due out on April 22 from Bloomsbury Press is Hip-Hop Architecture, Cooke’s architectural “manifesto” for the underrepresented in the field.