Kanye West Goes to Harvard, Delivers Manifesto on Architecture

"Everything needs to actually be 'architected'," says the hip-hop artist.

In an interview with BBC Radio 1 back in September, Kanye West expressed an interest in pursuing architecture. “I'm learning what I want, this is the reason why I'm working with five architects at a time,” he told DJ Zane Lowe.

It turns out, West wasn’t playing around. On Sunday evening, the recording artist visited Harvard’s Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts, ahead of his concert in Boston later in the night.

Kanye West speaks to Harvard architecture graduate students from atop a studio desk. (Photo by Justin Gallagher) 

He toured the design studio, checked out the students' work, and gave away 300 free tickets to his show. And of course, West didn't leave without jumping up on top of a workspace and addressing his vision for the future of architecture, highlighted in the following quotes (via Archinect, where a GSD alumna has shared a full transcript and video of Kanye West's speech.)

I really do believe that the world can be saved through design, and everything needs to actually be "architected."

I believe that utopia is actually possible -- but we're led by the least noble, the least dignified, the least tasteful, the dumbest, and the most political. 

 I really appreciate you guys' willingness to learn and hone your craft, and not be lazy about creation.

West's initial BBC interview stirred up some heated discussions in the comment sections of design websites like Dezeen and ArchDaily. Most pointed out the various ways he is unqualified to be an architect, but still some were curious to see what he could produce. According to the same GSD alumna who provided the transcript, West’s visit to Harvard on Sunday came about thanks to an invitation from the school's African-American Students Union. Those students, at least, appear to value the star's interest in their field.

At the moment, the architecture field does seem to be yearning for greater relevancy with the public. Last month, Architizer, an online platform for designers to showcase their work (and an occasional Atlantic Cities content partner), teamed up with the executive producers of Project Runway and posted a casting call for a new architecture reality TV show. 

"We are a profession that designs every school, skyscraper, hotel, and office in the world. Yet somehow no one seems to know what we do," wrote Marc Kushner, Architizer's co-founder.

Kanye West may not have the training and experience to build masterpieces right away, but he could easily be a promising champion of good design — with a voice that can travel far. 

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