Throughout his career, singer-producer Pharrell Williams always has been a notable voice for youth culture and the arts. And now, The Neptunes producer and creative director of Karmaloop TV has teamed up with skin and hair care company Kiehl’s and architect Chad Oppenheim to build the state-of-the-art Pharrell Williams Resource Center in his native Virginia Beach, Va., with plans to open the establishment in 2012.
In a recent interview with art and design publication Wallpaper, Williams explained his reasoning for creating the youth center.
“I wanted to provide people with the same opportunities I got. My teachers didn’t let me go until I had realized my potential,” said Williams. “They taught me to fight my way out of a paper bag. Children need guidance and creative discipline and someone to be there when they fall. They also need a safe haven. At the moment, arts organizations across the U.S. are having their funding cut, and we can’t let that happen. There’s so little regard for creative skills. Where would we be without design?”
Design renderings of the cutting-edge youth center, which was partially inspired by the Tiger Woods Foundation, show that the center will have a tree house theme with “a series of rectilinear volumes that appear to hover above the ground and nestle among the trees of a stretch of land,” playing upon Williams’ idea that fantasy can become reality, with a bit of imagination.
According to Williams and Oppenheim, when designing the building and its programs, the pair envisioned that the center would be a “safe haven” for kids where they can explore their creativity through music, art and research.
“I talked about the DNA of the building. I want it to be a safe haven for children and a place that challenges them, encouraging them to be curious. We had a very easy creative dialogue,” said Williams.
“It will house departments for all sorts of different creative vocations, including art, music and research,” added Oppenheim.
If the youth center is successful, the N.E.R.D. frontman plans on expanding his mission and creating new centers across America.
“This is just a prototype,” said Williams. “If all goes well, we will look at setting it up in other cities across the U.S. as well, such as Miami.”
We’re sure that all of Virginia Beach’s artsy and brainy kids are going to beat down the doors of the Pharrell Williams Resource Center when it finally opens. –nicholas robinson