‘Hip-Hop Architect’ Michael Ford brings youth camp to Highland Park

Michael Ford Portrait
Michael Ford [Courtesy Photo]

Michael Ford is a Highland Park-born architect, designer, and educator. He’s made an international name for himself as the “Hip-Hop Architect.” and is the founder of The Hip-Hop Architecture Camp, an award-winning youth camp centered on using hip-hop culture to expose youth to architecture and open their minds up to the various concepts of design.

On Thursday, July 28, Ford is bringing his camp to Highland Park’s Cortland Community Impact Center (formerly Cortland Elementary School). “It’s the elementary school I went to,” he says. “I started kindergarten there. Now I’m coming back as a licensed architect to work on this project.” The two-day camp will also feature architecture workshops, performances by hip-hop artist Super Emcee, and the participants will record a song summarizing the community’s ideas for the Interior Design Coalition.

“We want to see what young people are thinking, because maybe there is a wall on the inside that could be a mural, but we want to see who’s going to be on that mural,” Ford says. “Maybe it’s the teachers who worked at that school that had an impact. Is it the people in Highland Park right now that’s giving a contribution to the neighborhoods? It’s really an open discussion on letting your imagination run as wild as it wants.” says Ford.

Ford will take the ideas from the camp and implement them throughout the renovations. With assistance from Avalon Villiage’s Mamma Shu and the Interior Design Coalition, Ford believes this will make the youth feel more engaged to the community, and could also inspire the rest of Highland Park.