Pharrell Williams is known for his skills as a rapper, singer, and producer. But with his latest project, the hit maker is tapping into his philanthropic side and putting his creativity to good use.
Pharrell has teamed with the revered Oppenheim Architecture + Design firm to create a youth center in his hometown. The $35 million facility will provide the children of Virginia Beach with a space to get their homework done and so much more. The 30,000-square-foot center will include a digital music lab and spaces to meet with on-site mentors dedicated to their wellbeing and personal development.
The N.E.R.D front man has come under criticism from some who say that the multi-million dollar tree house made from steel and glass is an unnecessary money guzzler for a space that could have been built with more affordable materials and without the Oppenheim team. Pharrell has answered those critics by insisting the center’s aesthetics play a role in creating an educationally conducive environment.
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. 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.
Pharrell has long been involved in civic life in Virginia Beach, giving back every opportunity he could.
The cynics among you might scoff: Another celebrity, another vanity project. Maybe you even assume Pharrell isn’t involved at all — that he’s just slapping his name on the side of a building and letting others do the dirty work. But before you judge, consider this: Pharrell has been a generous patron of Virginia Beach over the years, having funded programs for school supplies and Thanksgiving-turkey donations. He is paying for the Pharrell Williams Resource Center in part out of his own pocket and will help campaign for the rest of the capital. He’ll also be involved in developing the center’s offerings. In short: Pharrell ain’t frontin’.
Pharrell’s charity aims to bring the children of Virginia Beach the sleek design and quality that he himself is notably fond of. While critics do have a point that $35 million dollars could have been stretched in other ways, I think it’s commendable that the star is giving the best the world has to offer to his community.
What’s your take on Pharrell’s generous gift? Tell us what you think Clutchettes and gents- weigh in!