Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America

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Black Towers/Black Power

Walter J. Hood. Black Towers/Black Power. 2020

Models: high-density foam, paint, and wood Screenprints: ink, paper, gouache, and watercolor
Sections: digital print on archival foam
Video (color, sound; 2:08 min.)
Project team: Hood Design Studio, Arup Engineering, and East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation Participants, Mohamed Abdelkarim, Melody Chang, Dana Floyd, Romi Hall, Olivia Hansberg, Tamara Kalo, Annie Ledbury, Tucker McPhaul, Sarita Schreiber, Andrea Valentini, and J. Hood
Commissioned for the exhibition Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America

Walter J. Hood: My name is Walter Hood. Within a one-mile stretch of San Pablo Avenue, there's the highest concentration of low-income housing in Oakland, California, and my project suggests that, maybe, we can rethink this through the insertion of 10 high rise buildings. And those high rise buildings are based on the Ten-Point Program that was developed by the Black Panthers.

The Black Panther Party grew out of the West Oakland neighborhood in the late ‘60s and it came about because of the incarceration of African-Americans within a ghettoized system. The Ten-Point Program suggests that we should be self-sufficient, let's have housing, let's take care of our community, let's stop capitalist theft, let's think about education, food, the economy, and who's in control of those things.

The exhibit is a hybrid collage of models, of drawings and a video. The street is central to the idea. It's planted with lush plantings. The paving is based on the prints of black panthers. The public spaces are imbued with our radical heroes: Huey Newton, Angela Davis. The architecture begins to create community space. You can go to a place that teaches you about civic lessons, about jurisprudence.

It has been really hard for Brown and Black people to imagine a future in this country. And so, in Black Towers/Black Power, there's a fiction that narrates the entire story of these towers. And by using fiction, maybe it's possible to re-imagine ourselves in new places and then find ways to get there.