A Note on the Installation Design

As a young architect, Walter Hood confronted us and the wider field with a landscape design imaginary that celebrates Blackness as a matter of course, giving our discipline language where there was little before. He models for us an expanded practice that is a heavily cultural, art, and making one. His trajectory underscores that the practice of architecture is itself a deeply cultural act.

Reflecting on Walter’s work brings to mind his call to consider “what makes a Black landscape?” His answer: an interwoven history of craft; of assembly; of practice, liberation and ritual. The invitation is for us to see—and others to “be seen”—in ways that give new meaning to the familiar. There is a liveness of gathering, improvisation, generosity, and receivership inherent to these histories (and presents) that we can learn from in how we imagine other spaces.

With that in mind, the design for this gathering is both an ode to Walter’s work and an ode to Marcus Garvey Park and Black landscapes he invites us to “see” and understand: the idea of the quilt and the bush arbor; of new ground and the extrusion of space from plan into three dimensions; of the interdependence of landscape, bodies, food, and water. Conjuring an archaeology of spaces that harbor a diaspora of Blackness and celebrating that living history in real time is the defining quality we can see running throughout Walter’s work and legacy.

Thus, to celebrate this event, we conceive the space as an “interdependent quilt,” a space of gathering, generosity, and music. The production of space becomes a living excavation of the histories and everyday acts that preserve and maintain Black landscape and the many communities that intersect and are nourished by it. The design aims to channel themes of Hood’s designs: the plans and works, history and ritual, and community building.

Inspired by Black landscape histories of Gee’s Bend and others, the quilt serves as practice, performance, and space of gathering. The creative process for the fabric canopy involves improvisational resourcefulness, the re-use of salvaged material, and celebration of the odds, ends, droops, and folds. Every quilt has a narrative. Once unfolded, an image of historic importance to Marcus Garvey Park emerges, a sea of Black bodies gathered for the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a moment surprisingly forgotten that is brought back to life and memorialized on the patchwork canvas.

—Jerome Haferd, BRANDT : HAFERD

Renderings & Models