California-Based MacArthur Fellow Reimagines Spaces in Underserved Neighborhoods

Gathering spaces in unexpected places.

Oakland-based Walter Hood is one of 26 recipients of this year’s MacAuthur Fellowship, a “genius grant” awarded to U.S. citizens or residents who display self-direction, originality and dedication to creative pursuits. A landscape architect and creative director and founder of Hood Design Studio, Hood reimagines spaces on street corners and town squares in urban areas to encourage community and recreation.

According to NPR, “Hood says he thinks of his grandmother’s house in rural North Carolina as a throughline to the work he does today. When he was a child, getting to her house was a journey that took him from his home in Charlotte onto highways and eventually ended by him seeing his grandmother’s house sitting on its own in the middle of fields.

“’It didn’t have toilets. You know, it had an outhouse, but there was always room in her house, food, and everything was about the land,’ Hood told All Things Considered. ‘I think those memories now shape kind of everything I think about.’”

You can read more about Hood and the narrative behind his urban projects here.

Photo courtesy of the MacArthur Foundation.