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The Architecture of Black Space

The Architecture of Black Space examines how architecture responds, and is shaped by, the African diaspora in the United States. The conversation will look specifically at the importance and future of public spaces in Black communities as a lens through which to understand spatial justice in urban settings. Panelists will consider the ways that history can be authentically interpreted and re-written equitably and how damaging systems and policies related to architecture and urban design can be dismantled or reimagined.

Join for a conversation between The Available City contributors and Black Reconstruction Collective founding members, Sekou Cooke and Germane Barnes, with writer and Associate Professor at the University of Chicago, Adrienne Brown.

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Adrienne Brown is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Chicago. She is the author of The Black Skyscraper: Architecture and the Perception of Race (2017) and co-editor with Valerie Smith of Race and Real Estate (2015).

Sekou Cooke is an architect, researcher, educator, and curator born in Jamaica and based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is the newly appointed Director of the Master of Urban Design program at UNC Charlotte and a recipient of the 2021/2022 Nasir Jones HipHop Fellowship at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. Through his professional practice, sekou cooke STUDIO, he brings thoughtful processes and rigorous experimentation to a vast array of project types from public, non-profit, and residential works in New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina, to mixed-use projects and tenant improvements in California, to speculative developments locally and internationally.

Germane Barnes’s research and design practice investigates the connection between architecture and identity. Mining architecture’s social and political agency, he examines how the built environment influences black domesticity. He is the former designer-in-residence for the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation, where he led a multi-site urban revitalization project. He is currently the director of the Community, Housing, and Identity Lab (CHIL) at the School of Architecture at the University of Miami. Learning from historical data and perspectives from within architecture as well as cultural and ethnic studies, CHIL posits that the built environment is manipulated by factors that extend far beyond conventional construction methods. Barnes’s design and research contributions have been published and exhibited in several international institutions including The Museum of Modern Art, PIN-UP magazine, the Graham Foundation, the New York Times, Architect Magazine, DesignMIAMI/ Art Basel, the Swiss Institute, Metropolis magazine, Curbed, and the National Museum of African American History where he was identified as a future designer on the rise.

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Chicago Architecture Biennial's InDialogue Series is supported by Hindman Auctions.

Hindman, an internationally recognized fine art auction house, offers its clients an unyielding focus on service and holistic solutions to connect to the global art market. Hindman conducts over 100 auctions annually in 52 collecting categories such as fine art, jewelry, modern design, books and manuscripts, furniture, native American art, decorative arts, antiquities, couture, and Asian works of art. Founded and headquartered in Chicago, Hindman is now represented in 13 cities in the United States and operates five salerooms, more than any other auction house in the country. 

Installation view, Grids + Griots, sekou cooke STUDIO, Chicago Architecture Biennial, 2021. Photo by Nathan Keay.