"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. 

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    Why New York City Stopped Building Subways

    Nearly 80 years ago, a construction standstill derailed the subway’s progress, leading to its present crisis. This is the story, decade by decade.

  2. Naked cyclists ride down Lombard Street in San Francisco.
    Environment

    The Weirdest Ways That U.S. Cities Are Celebrating Earth Day

    From group oyster-shell bagging to a naked bike ride, some Earth Day events are more colorful than the standard festivals and tree plantings.

  3. A plain-clothed police officer mans a position behind the counter at the Starbucks that has become the center of protests in Philadelphia.
    Equity

    Suspiciously Black in Starbucks

    Starbucks doesn't need to close its stores for bias trainings. It needs to change its entire design so that it doesn’t merely reflect the character of host neighborhoods, especially if that character is racist.

  4. A construction worker inside the 86th Street cavern of the Second Avenue Subway tunnel in 2014
    Transportation

    Why It's So Expensive to Build Urban Rail in the U.S.

    It’s not just the Second Avenue Subway: Nearly all urban rail projects in the U.S. cost much more than their European counterparts.

  5. Atrium of modernist office park.
    Design

    A New Urbanist Developer Gives Saarinen a Reboot

    A suburban megacampus for corporate giant Bell Labs makes way for a more diverse second life.