Above: National Museum of African American History and Culture. Photo: Alan Karchmer.
Sir David Adjaye, one of the most renowned architects of his generation, is known for a diverse body of work that spans the globe. Rather than pursuing a signature style, his firm’s designs respond to the unique qualities of their context, drawing out and contributing to the narratives of their place. Through an in-depth exploration of a selection of his projects, including the acclaimed National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, Adjaye will discuss how his work weaves together notions of place and identity, drawing on historical, cultural and geographic tropes to produce projects with the capacity to enliven neighborhoods and empower communities. He will discuss how, in this context, materiality becomes a tool for unearthing these cultural narratives and for rooting the project in its place.
Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, his broadly ranging influences, ingenious use of materials and sculptural ability have established him as an architect with an artist’s sensibility and vision. In 2000, he founded Adjaye Associates, which now has offices in London, New York and Accra with projects in the US, UK, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. His largest project to date, the USD 540 million Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African American History and Culture, opened on the National Mall in Washington DC in fall of 2016 and was named Cultural Event of the Year by The New York Times.
Other prominent completed projects include the Idea Stores in London, which were credited with pioneering a new approach to library services (2005); the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO (2010), and the Sugar Hill mixed-use social housing scheme in Harlem, New York (2015). Ongoing projects include a new home for the Studio Museum in Harlem, the just-announced National Cathedral of Ghana in Accra, and the National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London.
Adjaye has amassed numerous accolades for his visionary work, including Design Miami/ Artist of the Year title in 2011, the Wall Street Journal Innovator Award in 2013 and the 2016 Panerai London Design Medal from the London Design Festival. In 2017, Adjaye received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for services to architecture and was named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people.