Hip-hop heads make a pilgrimage to 5Pointz to complete the fifth element of hip-hop, similar to the way Muslims make a pilgrimage to the Hajj to complete the fifth pillar of Islam.

5Pointz: The Institute for Higher Burning is a place many graffiti writers call home. It has been around since 2002, but its building has been used as a safe haven for graffiti writers since 1993, when it was founded under the name the Phun Phactory. The building was taken over by Meres, the current art director and an artist who has been writing graffiti for over 20 years.

The building is owned by the Wolkoff family but is used as a giant canvas for artists. It is covered from the rooftop all the way down to the sidewalk in awe-inspiring aerosol art.

Many graffiti artists call this building home. 5Pointz is a location for all artists, no matter the level of their skills-all can come out and express themselves. For years, 5Pointz has housed events promoting the appreciation not only of the art that it is engulfed in but the culture that it represents.

5Pointz represents hip-hop culture as a whole by hosting an array of events such as breakdancing battles and beatboxing competitions. It is not just the backdrop to many music videos of iconic hip-hop artists and groups like Grandmaster Caz, Mobb Deep and Boot Camp Clik. Meres said, “Every element of hip-hop is present here at any given time; [it’s] no longer a building but a community.”

5Pointz is a name that seems so distant from what the building represents. When asked about the name’s meaning, Meres explained, “It symbolizes five boroughs coming to one epicenter, one point to coincide and create.” He added, “I wanted a name that didn’t have to do with graffiti, in case [I] decided to venture out to other areas.”

The aerosol museum is approaching its 10th anniversary. As it nears this milestone, Meres hopes it will make it, as there have been rumors that the Wolkoffs are planning on bulldozing 5Pointz to build high-rise buildings. It’s “a matter of time until he starts that process,” Meres said.

Surprisingly, he is not bitter, but rather sounds grateful when talking about the situation. Meres clarified that the building’s owner is responsible for allowing everything to happen at 5Pointz, so he doesn’t want to “mud-sling.”

But artist TooFly said, “If 5Pointz was to be torn down, we would see it as one more example of the corporate takeover of our community.” She feels that “5Pointz is important to New York City art history” and relates the tearing down of the building to deforestation. “They are messing with the environment that gives them life,” she said.

This graffiti mecca brings thousands of tourists and painters to the city every year as they come just to view the building. A person painting at 5Pointz shared that he actually saves up nearly $5,000 every winter to spend on spray paint in order to paint legal masterpieces there in the summer. And that is just one writer-one can only imagine the amount of money being brought into the city because of 5Pointz.

To local Brooklyn graffiti writer Fenone, 5Pointz is more than a place to paint. It is a utopia, a place where “everybody accepts you…we get looked down upon anywhere else.” According to Fenone, this is how many other graffiti writers feel about the building.

Graffiti artist Jesus Saves added, “It’s not fair for 5Pointz to be knocked down like that, unless they can give us another spot where we can all paint.”

Many graffiti writers are angry at real estate developers for pushing for the removal of 5Pointz and deem it as an anti-graffiti attack. David Wolkoff, the real estate developer who is responsible for its Long Island City location, said that this is not the case. Wolkoff assured that it was “strictly business…I respect 5Pointz highly; I find it beautiful. Graffiti is a form of art.”

Wolkoff continued, “This has nothing to do with anti-graffiti; if it did, I would not allow it on the walls. The area is growing. The building is old and it is time for a change.”

What can graffiti artists do to salvage 5Pointz? Wolkoff admitted, “There is nothing that can be done…I love the area. I do not want to sell.

“The new building will have a graffiti institute inside, just not on every inch like 5Pointz has,” he offered.

The statement is heartbreaking. The removal of 5Pointz will be as devastating to the graffiti community as the destruction of the first Yankee stadium to Yankee fans. There will be tears.

Graffiti began as an illegal art and, little by little, it has become accepted enough for artists to get permission to paint legally. With 5Pointz coming down, many graffiti writers have hinted that the art will be taken back to its roots.

5Pointz is a museum of mind-boggling aerosol art, a building that should not be torn down. If it is, Meres said, “Years later, they’ll regret that and wish they had saved it.”

TooFly claimed, “You take this away and you kill the spirit of what truly makes this place, this neighborhood and this city special.” A place that promotes so much creativity, love and protection should not be demolished but preserved.