Project Brief: Design an eatery for an iconic brand with an "open" event space for Harlem.
Designing a unique experience restaurant for a well-known Harlem Icon restaurant brand, The Red Rooster for chefs and owner, Marcus Samuelsson. The client is interested in a very strong cultural aesthetic throughout the space and is asking that the design team add an event space for performing and showcasing art, sculpture, lectures, dance, comedy, music, hosting small local craft artists or exhibitions as part of the dining experience. This project investigates the significance of cultural aesthetics in the creation of an interior in the community of Harlem, in upper Manhattan, in New York City. The project creates strategies for defining and applying cultural themes relative to an African based cultural dynamic and proposals for this three-story interior space.

Design Background and Inspiration: The role of food as a social bridge particularly accented in 1950s and 1960s, when the Black Power Movement began to take hold. The Civil Right Movement, which began to find momentum in the 1950s, together with other factors, played a vital role in racial consciousness of the community. Food was part of this collective racial sentiment. For this reason, the conciseness of the culinary tradition as part of the movements led to the creation of "soul food" in the 1960s, an invented tradition that unified diverse and numerous communities. Soul food presents a strategically simplified narrative of African American cooking that serves the goal of unifying diverse and numerous communities into a political and cultural whole, evoking a sense of pride and achievement in its members. In this way, food was a connector that bridged the social differences between the residents to create a collective sense of community in Harlem.

Food was part of As an emblem of Harlem glamour and timelessness, nestled in the heart of the upper west side, the restaurant uses its distinct style of food and art, connecting people with its invented tradition and unified diverse and numeral communities. Harlem as the rebirth of jazz, the restaurant becomes the next rising star in this community with its extensive culinary art, whimsical art pieces created by local artists, and the jazz ban that can intuit the mood of the audience. People suddenly fall into the nostalgic conversation in this restaurant, an isle of joy. As a social bridge that raises racial consciousness, the restaurant is a place to see and be seen. Even as Harlem has changed over time, with its slick restaurant and fancy bars, our design of the restaurant will remain itself and become part of the history as legendary in the future: friendly, elegant, diverse, yet vibrant.


Technical information: The construction of the building is made of glass and aluminum. By the time sunlight goes through, the interior space will have a reflection of the light. The abundant natural light helps the space save electricity, and during the night time, people on the street can see through the restaurant, yet has the semi-privacy feeling.

Student: Meixi Xu
Instructor: Jack Travis

Red Rooster Mart 125: A Social Bridge in an Invented Tradition by Meixi Xu in United States won the WA Award Cycle 43. Please find below the WA Award poster for this project.

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Meixi Xu