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About Craig L. Wilkins...

Architect, author, critic and 2017 National Design Award Winner Dr. Craig L. Wilkins serves on the faculty of the University of Michigan College of Architecture and Urban Planning, where the former director of the Detroit Community Design Center and hip-hop architectural theorist teaches courses on design and social justice. Recognized as one of the country’s leading scholars on African Americans in architecture, his essay, “(W)Rapped Space: The Architecture of Hip Hop” – considered to be the first, serious treatise on hip hop and architecture published in a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal – predicted the influence of hip hop on architecture almost two decades ago and remains a primary theoretical source in the field. His first book, The Aesthetics of Equity: Notes on race, space, architecture and music received an 2008 Montaigne Medal and 2009 National Indie Excellence Award. Dr. Wilkins’ designs and scholarship has appeared in such publications as the Journal of Architectural Education, International Review of African American Art, The Architect’s Newspaper, Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, Detroit News, Miami Herald, The Atlantic, Inhabit, and Fast Company, and included in exhibits at the Museum of Outstanding Design in Como, Italy and Chengdu Design Week in Chengdu, China. Named a Kresge Artist Fellow in 2010, his design for temporary transit seating received a A' Design and International Competition Silver Award for Social Design as well as Runner Up Recognition for Street Furniture in 2014. Recently, The Aesthetics of Equity served as the foundation for MacArthur Fellow artist Kara Walker’s curated Ruffneck Constructivist exhibit at the International Contemporary Art Museum in Philadelphia. He was the winner of the 2015 “Dear Architecture” Ideas Competition.


Dr. Wilkins believes design is an intentional aesthetic, social, economic and political act and should be employed to address the unequal distribution of life opportunities. Working nationally and internationally with such diverse entities as for-profit; not-for-profit; faith- and community-based organizations; vocational as well as local, federal and cultural institutions; think tanks and universities; he focuses on providing collaborative design assistance to low- and moderate-income urban residents, neighborhoods, communities and municipalities. Currently, his work focuses on what he describes as urban acupunctures; small architectures that relieve the pressures of everyday life, often built with salvaged and repurposed materials in the city’s neglected spaces. These small architectures ultimately illustrate what he calls “the aesthetics of making-do” paralleling the loose and still-evolving principles of the nascent hip hop architecture movement – reusing discard objects, using materials for unintended purposes, rewriting former definitions of the good, the useful and the beautiful in space and place and inviting users to create their own environment.

Dr. Wilkins received his doctorate from the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts; his masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and his bachelors from the University of Detroit School of Architecture. He is also co-editor of Activist Architecture: The Philosophy & Practice of Community Design Centers (2015) and most recently the author of The Diversity of Architects: From Margin to Center (2016).

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