Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 10/9/22

Exhibition Shows the Work of 34 Pioneers – Students, Academics & Practitioners—at the Center of the Emerging Architectural Revolution

On View Through Sunday, January 29, 2023 

Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) – the only museum in the Southeast devoted exclusively to the study and celebration of all things design – announces Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture will open Saturday, October 15 and be on view through Sunday, January 29, 2023 at the Midtown museum. An opening celebration with drinks, light bites, beats from DJ Jazzy T and a performance by Soul Food Cypher will take place on Friday, October 14 from 7-9pm and is open to the public. Registration for the opening party is here, and tickets to view the exhibition beginning October 15 will be available for purchase at the museum and in advance here.

Hip-Hop, the dominant cultural movement of our time, was established by the Black and Latino youth of New York’s South Bronx neighborhood in the early 1970s. Over the last five decades, hip-hop’s primary means of expression—deejaying, emceeing, b-boying and graffiti—have become globally recognized creative practices in their own right, and each has significantly impacted the urban built environment.

Hip-Hop Architecture is a design movement that embodies the collective creative energies native to young denizens of urban neighborhoods. Its designers produce spaces, buildings and environments that translate hip-hop’s energy and spirit into built form. Now three decades in the making, Hip-Hop Architecture is finally receiving widespread attention within the discipline of architecture thanks to years of dedication to its principles by practitioners such as Sara Zewde, Ujijji Davis, James Garrett Jr., Craig L. Wilkins and this show’s curator, Sekou Cooke. During this period of emergence, the movement’s ideals have primarily been tested by a small group of pioneering individuals, each using hip-hop as a lens through which to provoke and evoke architectural form. Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture exhibits the work of these pioneers—students, academics and practitioners—at the center of this emerging architectural revolution. 

The exhibition includes work by 34 participants representing seven countries, with projects ranging across a variety of media and forms of expression: from experimental visualization formats and installation strategies, to façade studies, building designs and urban development proposals. In aggregate, these projects reveal a collective vision for alternative forms of expression and practice, and serve to formalize work created over the past 30 years into an emerging canon of Hip-Hop Architecture.

The work exhibited is identified using three primary characteristics: hip-hop identity, hip-hop process and hip-hop image. The first includes authors who self-identify with the hip-hop community; the second invokes a method of production using specific hip-hop techniques or values; and the third creates products recognizable as part of an established hip-hop aesthetic. A new element of the exhibition added for the Museum of Design Atlanta, 3D Turntables, is an interactive exploration of the relationship between hip-hop technology and architectural fabrication.

Projects featured in the exhibition include:

  • Work from There Are No Blank Sheets of Paper by Amanda Williams, in which she questions how violence informs the use, appropriation and design of urban spaces
  • Shanty Megastructures, a 2015 speculative and Afrofuturist architectural intervention imagined for Lagos, Nigeria by Olalekan Jeyifous
  • Lauren Halsey’s 2018 Crenshaw District Hieroglyphic Project, a monument to South Central Los Angeles’s communities

“I’m very excited to bring this show to Atlanta after its three previous stops in New York, Saint Paul and Charlotte,” says Curator Sekou Cooke. “This city is the home of iconic Modernist and contemporary works of architecture as well as the home of ‘Dirty South’ artists like Outkast and Goodie Mob. I’m also thrilled to once again be working with a local graffiti artist, POEST, on this occasion and have involvement from local performing artists during other museum-hosted programming.”


Alongside the exhibition, MODA will host virtual and in-person events related to Hip-Hop Architecture. Additional programs will be announced on MODA’s event calendar here throughout the exhibition.

Exhibition Opening

Fri., Oct. 14, 7-9pm

1315 Peachtree Street Atlanta, Georgia 30309

An opening celebration with drinks, light bites, beats from DJ Jazzy T and a performance by Soul Food Cypher will take place on Friday, October 14 from 7-9pm and is open to the public. Registration for the opening party is here.

Hip-Hop Culture in Ghana: A Conversation with Essé Dabla-Attikpo 

Wed., Nov. 2, 6-8pm

1315 Peachtree Street Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Join MODA, Atlanta Sustainable Fashion Week and Villa Albertine ATL at the museum for a conversation with Essé Dabla-Attikpo about hip-hop culture in Ghana. A current resident at Villa Albertine ATL and an independent curator and art consultant based in Ghana, Esse is studying the intersection between hip-hop and contemporary art and researching representations of Blackness in hip-hop culture by Black visual artists. Tickets can be purchased here.

Hip-Hop Bricks & Brew with Most Incredible 

Sat., Oct. 15, 7-9pm

1315 Peachtree Street Atlanta, Georgia 30309

MODA and Most Incredible are teaming up to host a fun evening to celebrate the museum’s new exhibition. Attendees will be able to socialize while building hip-hop-inspired creations with LEGO and sipping local beer from Second Self Beer Co.


The exhibition at MODA is made possible thanks to sponsors including the National Endowment for the Arts, AEC Trust, Spacecraft International, the Graham Foundation, EYP: A Page Company, Interface | Flor, National Organization of Minority Architects and Primal Screen. This exhibition is supported in part by the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affair and the Fulton County Board of Commissioners.


Curator: Sekou Cooke

Exhibition Design: Sekou Cooke with graffiti by POEST

Design Assistant: Joseph Appiah

Curatorial Assistant: Mirra Goldfrad