When rapper and designer Pharrell Williams had a chance meeting with architect Chad Oppenheim, they discovered that they shared a similar vision of helping make the world a better place. And so began their new collaboration to design and build a treehouse-inspired youth center in Williams’ hometown of Virginia Beach. To be located on a forested site saved from other development, the Pharrell Williams Resource Center will be dedicated to inspiring youth and helping them reach their full potential. The new center will feature sustainable materials, wind turbines, forest integration as well as eco-celebrity, Pharrell Williams.
After Williams and Oppenheim met at Art Basel in 2008, they began dreaming up ways to collaborate and created the vision for the youth center so children could have a safe and nurturing place to escape and dream big. Their vision for the 30,000 sq. ft center is a contemporary treehouse with a futuristic design aimed at inspiring kids to aspire to great things. Composed of rectilinear volumes of different proportions made from reclaimed materials, the building is set within a forest creating a close connection to nature. Expansive views of the open prairie will be visible from within the building and sustainable architecture will inspire future generations.
“I believe the architecture of a building says a lot about its soul and I wanted a building for the center that makes a statement to the world and the kids – something that will stand as a monument of optimism, and felt Chad was the only architect that could capture that.” said Pharrell. “We want the building to look like something out of the future, so it will inspire the kids in it to aspire to greater things.” The Center’s goal is to provide kids with inspiring experiences that will then have a positive influence on the surrounding community. Currently Williams’ charity From One Hand to Another (FOHTA) is raising funds for the Center’s construction, which is slated for 2013.