When architecture went hip-hop--PBS style

July 12, 2010

Throw ya hands in the air for the above clip from "3-2-1 Contact," a 1980s public television program designed to teach kids math and science. The clip from the 1987 season features the still-emerging musical genre of hip-hop--and fast (for 1987) music video-styled editing to explain architecture to kids.‚  The episode was the last of five consecutive "Contact" shows dealing with architecture.

The now old school rapping is funny to modern ears (although for some reason it reminded me of the M.C. Shan vinyl I used to own) but overall--given much of what passes for children's TV these days--it's a pretty good effort to speak to kids in the vernacular and music with which they were familiar.

A number of Chicago buildings can be seen here, including the Pullman Factory and Administration Building at 111th and Cottage Grove (at 0:08); SOM's still cool-as-hell wireframe computer animation of the Chicago Central Area (0:11); the Walter Gropius & Adolf Meyer entry to the Chicago Tribune Tower competition (0:23); and a montage of the Trib competition entries (1:23).

The show even gives an explanation on loads and beams afterward.