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Old Bronx County Courthouse Scouted as Site For a Hip-Hop Museum

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If created, the museum would be the first in NYC to focus solely on celebrating, preserving, and exploring hip-hop culture

A series of new renderings depict what the Old Bronx County Courthouse would look like if transformed into the highly anticipated Universal Hip Hop Museum. This museum would be the first in its kind in the five boroughs that focuses solely on celebrating, preserving, and exploring hip hop culture. In renderings by by "Hip-Hop Architect" Mike Ford, the landmark 1930s courthouse would become a cutting-edge center that provides visitors with an immersive experience through virtual reality exhibits, holograms, interactive documentaries, vintage photos, and more.

Ford shared his inspiration behind the project with Curbed, revealing how he came up with the concept, the significance behind the location, and what it will take to move the project from an idea into reality.

When did you first get the idea to open a physical hip-hop museum in the Bronx?

The idea came about three years ago when UHHM board chairman Rocky Bucano teamed up with real estate developer YoungWoo, who thought it would be a great idea to include a museum for hip-hop as part of the development plan proposed to for the Kingsbridge Armory. Since then, we have been searching for an appropriate property to establish the museum with the appropriate resources and support from city and state agencies.

What made you set sights on the Old Bronx County Courthouse?

The Courthouse became a viable option when New York state assemblyman Michael Blake thought the museum would make a great anchor of his 3, 2, 1 vision for the 79th District of the Bronx, where the courthouse is located. After learning that the Borough of the Bronx was born at the courthouse, it became more evident that this building could make a great home for the museum, as hip-hop itself was born in the Bronx. The culture, the city and this building are uniquely linked.

How did you manage to get so many hip-hop pioneers on board with the project and be willing to take on key roles in its development?

Getting people such as Ice T., Kurtis Blow, Roxanne Shante, and Paradise Gray on board was not difficult at all. Everyone who has contributed to the global evolution of hip-hop understands the importance of having a museum that is dedicated to its preservation, protection, and advancement. In April, we teamed with Autodesk to put on a three-day design cypher where hip-hop pioneers, community members, students, and our program partners created the architectural vision of the museum. We want to involve artists and the community in this project from start to finish.

Where does the museum currently stand in terms of obtaining approval from the city to move forward?

Further discussions need to be had with both city and state officials to determine the amount of resources that can be committed to the development of the museum. It's a massive economic development project that will provide jobs and other benefits to a community that is one of the poorest in the entire state of New York. We are in discussions with the owner of the Old Bronx Borough Courthouse to determine the options of a long term lease that is mutually beneficial and acceptable to city and state officials.

Using Autodesk software, Ford and his team have created visuals of how the museum would potentially look. Check out the samples images below: