Sir David Adjaye

Sir David Adjaye

Impact in Architecture Award

Sir David Adjaye OBE is recognized as a leading architect of his generation. Adjaye was born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents and his influences range from contemporary art, music and science to African art forms and the civic life of cities. In 1994 he set up his first office, where his ingenious use of materials and his sculptural ability established him as an architect with an artist’s sensibility and vision.

He reformed his studio as Adjaye Associates in 2000 and immediately won several prestigious commissions. In Oslo he designed the Nobel Peace Centre in the shell of a disused railway station (completed in 2005).
In London his design for the Whitechapel Idea Store pioneered a new approach to the provision of information services (2005). Later projects in London included the Stephen Lawrence Centre, with teaching and community spaces (2007), Rivington Place, an exhibition venue and resource centre (2007), and the Bernie Grant Centre for the performing arts (2007). He is currently working on a pair of major redevelopment projects in the city – One Berkeley (ongoing), a £600 million scheme in the prestigious Piccadilly area; and 5 Strand (ongoing), a mixed-use residential scheme adjacent to the iconic Traflagar Square.

In the United States, Adjaye is recognized as the lead designer for the $540 million Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in fall 2016 on the National Mall in Washington DC. He has also designed the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver (2007), two public libraries in Washington DC (2012), and a mixed-use social housing, museum and child education scheme in New York’s Sugar Hill (2015). Adjaye’s US office is currently working on the new home for The Studio Museum in Harlem (ongoing), the Ruby City building for the Linda Pace Foundation, and a luxury residential tower in lower Manhattan (ongoing).

Adjaye Associates now has offices in London, New York and Accra, with projects throughout the world. These include the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo (2010), the Aishti Foundation shopping and cultural complex in Beirut (2015), and the Alara concept store in Lagos (2014).

Adjaye frequently collaborates with contemporary artists on art and installation projects. Examples include The Upper Room, with thirteen paintings by Chris Ofili (2002), Within Reach, a second installation with Ofili in the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2003), and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art for the 21st Century Pavilion that was designed to show a projection work by Olafur Eliasson, Your Black Horizon, at the 2005 Venice Biennale. The Upper Room is now in the permanent collection of Tate Britain. Adjaye recently collaborated with Okwui Enwezor on the design of the 56th Venice Art Biennale (2015).

Adjaye has taught at the Royal College of Art, where he had previously studied, and at the Architectural Association School in London, and has held distinguished professorships at the universities of Pennsylvania, Yale and Princeton. He is currently the John C. Portman Design Critic in Architecture at Harvard. In 2016, he was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen for services to architecture, following the award of his OBE in 2007. He was also the 2016 recipient of the Panerai London Design Medal – the London Design Festival’s the highest accolade – and the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT. He was awarded the Design Miami/ Year of the Artist title in 2011, the Wall Street Journal Innovator Award in 2013 and named Britain’s Most Influential Black Person in 2012 by Powerlist.

The material from Adjaye’s ten-year study of the capital cities of Africa was shown in Urban Africa, an exhibition at the Design Museum, London (2010) and published as African Metropolitan Architecture (New York, 2011, and as Adjaye Africa Architecture, London, 2011). He was the artistic director of GEO- graphics: A map of art practices in Africa, past and present, a major exhibition at the Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels (2010). An exhibition of his architectural work, David Adjaye: Output, was held at Gallery MA, Tokyo (2010). In 2015, a major retrospective exhibition of his work to date was held at Haus der Kunst in Munich and the Art Institute of Chicago.

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