Recently, the University of Florida held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new home of the Institute of Black Culture on campus. In 1971, the Institute of Black Culture was established after a series of peaceful protests from Black students advocating for their rights ended with 66 students arrested or suspended for occupying the university’s president’s office. After the protests, 123 students withdrew from the University of Florida.
The Institute of Black Culture includes areas for study and meetings, staff offices, event space, a lounge area and living room with a balcony looking out to University Avenue. The interior design reinforces themes in color and pattern important to the students, alumni, and staff by balancing bold moments in the finish selections with a neutral background that allows them to uniquely express their history, culture, and social activism.
The Institute of Black Culture is imbued with ideas from the past, present, and looking toward the future. The central gathering area – known as the Beacon – is the highest point in the structure. It manifests the idea of social and cultural exchange into a two-story space wrapped by a grand stair and façade of glass to celebrate its rich heritage. The cultural expression is continued on the exterior patterning in the masonry along the University Avenue façade. Abstracted from prevalent geometries found in African art and textiles, the triangular shapes represent remembering the past, the present, and looking towards the future. These geometries also shape the room orientation and layout.