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Haute 100 Update: Pharrell to Fund and Build $35M Oppenheim-Designed Youth Center

Just when we thought hip hop’s Renaissance man Pharrell Williams couldn’t get any more amazing, the entrepreneurN.E.R.D. frontman, talented producer, filmmaker, and ardent philanthropist officially unveiled his plans for the $35 million Pharrell Williams Resource Center in Virginia Beach, which aims to engage children in an atmosphere free of the more unproductive distractions like video games and Facebook.

The youth center – which Williams is funding from his own pocket – will provide the kids with a futuristically designed area in which they can go after school and be productive with their time, including a space-age treehouse in which they can receive help on their homework, experiment in a digital music lab, meet with mentors, and more.

The 30,000-square-foot center is being designed by revered visionary Chad Oppenheim of Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture + Design. The project is being built in partnership with the city of Virginia Beach, Williams’ hometown.

The project was conceived back in 2008 after Williams met Oppenheim at Switzerland’s Art Basel show, during which the two struck a connection over their shared ambition to “make the world a better place.”

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

Williams said, “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.”

Our Haute 100 list details the accomplishments of the most influential people in each of our markets. To see the entire Haute 100 Miami list, click here.

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New York February / March 2014
New York February / March 2014