Speaking at INSIDE
Sir David Adjaye OBE
Adjaye Associates , Principal
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, including the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo (2005) and the Idea Stores in London (2005), which were credited with pioneering a new approach to the provision of information services. His largest project to date, the $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.
Adjaye Associates now has offices in London, New York and Accra with projects in the US, UK, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. These include the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO (2010), the Sugar Hill mixed-use social housing scheme in Harlem, New York (2015); the Aishti Foundation retail and art complex in Beirut (2015); and two neighborhood libraries in Washington DC (2012). Prominent ongoing projects include a new home for the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, a major neighborhood masterplan in San Francisco, a new headquarters building for the International Finance Corporation in Dakar, and One Berkeley, a £600 million redevelopment project in London’s prestigious Piccadilly area.
Adjaye was recently knighted by Her Majesty the Queen for services to Architecture, following the previous award of an OBE in 2007. In 2017, he was recognized as one of the 100 most influential people of the year by TIME magazine. He additionally received the Design Miami/ Year of the Artist title in 2011, the Wall Street Journal Innovator Award in 2013 and more recently the 2016 Panerai London Design Medal, awarded by the London Design Festival, the highest accolade bestowed upon an individual who has distinguished themselves within the industry and demonstrated consistent design excellence over a number of years.
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 ThyssenBornemisza 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 Harvard, Princeton and Yale universities. 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 comprehensive retrospective exhibition of his work to date launched at Haus der Kunst in Munich and the Art Institute of Chicago.