N.E.R.D. Frontman Plans $35m Pharrell Williams Resource Center

A futuristic youth center in Virginia Beach is getting off the ground thanks to this big-hearted rapper/producer.

Johnny Firecloudby Johnny Firecloud

Am I dreaming? Is this real life? Do we really get to share a good-news story today? It appears so, as plans have been unveiled for a $35 million Pharrell Williams Resource Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia – a youth center which will provide a futuristically-designed area in which kids can be productive after school and have a place to entertain themselves away from video games and Facebook. 

The N.E.R.D. front man and Neptunes producer has annoucned plans to build the 30,000-square-foot youth center in his hometown of Virginia Beach, according to FastCoDesign. Designed by Chad Oppenheim of Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture + Design, the location will offer kids use of a futuristic tree house, where they'll be able get help on their homework, experiment in a digital music lab and meet with mentors, among other activities.

Slated for completion in 2013, The Pharrell Williams Resource Center is being built in partnership with the city of Virginia Beach.

The project first took root after Pharrell and Oppenheim met at Switzerland's Art Basel show in 2008, sparking a connection over a shared vision to “make the world a better place,” the press release describes.

“Pharrell had a unique experience growing up with a local educator that gave him the confidence to pursue his talents,” Oppenheim told Co.Design, “and he wants to provide the same atmosphere for future generations.”

Pharrell isn't a new player in the philanthropy game, having been a strong supporter of the Virginia Beach community over the years. The rapper/producer has directly helped fund programs for local school supplies, and even assisted with Thanksgiving-turkey donations. He is paying for the Pharrell Williams Resource Center in part out of his own pocket, will assist in efforts in raising the rest of the necessary funds and will take part in orchestrating the youth center's main offerings.

According to the press release, "Oppenheim used a small forest on an open prairie, somehow saved from over development in the area, as the setting for the PWRC. Instead of observing the forest, he decided to engage and enhance it fully celebrating the wonders of the natural world with the design. The 30,000 square-foot facility is imagined to empower the youth of Virginia Beach to reach their maximum potential and give a safe and nurturing environment to uncover and tune their passions. Rectilinear volume of different proportions and various reclaimed materials dance with and through the native trees, reconsidering a harmonious fusion between man and nature—a passion shared by both Pharrell and Chad."

.A few words from Pharrell on the project:

"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."

Now that's something worth investing in.

Photo: Oppenheim Architecture