Aesthetics of Equity: Notes on Race, Space, Architecture, and Music
(University of Minnesota, 2007)
Architecture is often thought to be a diary of a society, filled with symbolic representations of specific cultural moments. However, that diary includes far too few narratives of the diverse cultures in U.S. society. Illustrating how ideologies are formed, transmitted, and embedded in the built environment, the Aesthetics of Equity deconstructs how the marginalization of African Americans is authorized within the field of architecture. The treatise outlines how activist forms of expression shape and sustain communities, fashioning an architectural theory around the site of environmental conflict constructed by hip-hop culture and places such concerns in a historical context while offering practical solutions to address them. In doing so, the work reveals new possibilities for an architecture that acknowledges current shortcomings and replies to the needs of multicultural constituencies.
2008 Montaigne Medal for best new writing
2008 Nominated for the Myers Center Outstanding Book Award
2008 Nominated for a ACSA Creative Achievement Award
2009 National Indie Excellence Award Winner – Social Change
2009 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist – Education/Academic
Some of the most profound and insightful writing on race and architecture I have ever read. The choice to use the “vernacular” and thus taking advantage of its direct, no B. S. vibe is inspired! And bringing into it the benefits of whiteness, the inherent racism at the academy (and out)...this is strong, potent stuff…Such a fresh, swaggering work. Amazing on many levels...
Former Chicago Sun-Times Architecture Critic
VP for Planning, Education & Museum Experience,
DuSable Museum of African American History
For architects and related cultural practitioners who share interest in developing and extending a social project, and whose work will directly benefit from and contribute to the growth of a larger more collectively developed project…[this] book stands as both a scholarly contribution and as a political manifesto.
Professor, Miami University School of Architecture
Director, Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine
BRAVO! A Tour de Force! The section on what actually happened in the sixties in the CDC movement is brilliant. It indeed is our unfinished business and correct starting point for a new movement of empowerment and self-valorization. This is a book that needed writing.
Melvin Mitchell, FAIA
Principal & CEO, Bryant Mitchell Architects
Author, “The Crisis of the Black Architect”
Foreshadowing the #blacklivesmatter conversation of today, The Aesthetics of Equity draws the reader into an empathy with the “otherness” of blackness…It helps us understand the deep furrows in the landscape of our collective experience that skin color still creates…[and] builds an intriguing case for the empowering elements of hip hop culture and its innovative remix style. The current explosion of accolades for “Hamilton: An American Musical” is in some ways a validation of his thesis—remixing a white man’s story into a story for all Americans. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so aptly stated: Let us together “rise up” and “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”
Lisa Lamkin, FAIA
Principal, BRW Architects
It is a wonderful introduction to the nexus of African American studies and architecture… Much of this book amounts to a manifesto of sorts for the possibility of a hip hop-informed Black architecture.
Principal, A(n) Office
Assistant Professor of Architecture, Princeton University
The Aesthetic of Equity is unusually important…a significant theoretical work on culture and race, especially African American culture, that helps to fill the void of works on race in environmental, urban design and architecture.
Professor, Howard University School of Architecture
Co-Editor, “Directory of African American Architects”
For those teaching or working on public projects, I recommend this read – if only to further reinforce that new ideas can come from anywhere and valid opinions exist outside of the regulated schools of thought, so it is our job to listen as much (if not more) than teach. For general practitioners of architecture interested in the philosophical means behind modern movements I would also offer this book...For those who feel that the work they do focuses too little on the people affected or who wondered why most architects look the same, this book, is also for you.
Dru McKeown, Architect, Artist
Principal, TOI Studio
By all measures, Wilkins’ The Aesthetic of Equity is a successful book that should be on the 'must read list' of every educator, practitioner, and student of architecture.
California State University, Los Angeles
Every black architect, actually, every architect, should have a copy of this book. It is a landmark publication.
Jack Travis, FAIA
Author, “African American Architects in Current Practice"
The Aesthetics of Equity…is an excellent resource.
Nicole Ashanti McFarlane
Professor of English, Rhetoric, and Composition
Fayetteville State University