Renowned Architect David Adjaye : Renowned architect David Adjaye has made the decision to step back from several positions and upcoming projects following allegations of sexual harassment or assault made by three former employees. These serious allegations against Adjaye were recently published in the Financial Times, prompting significant consequences for the Ghanaian-British architect.
Relinquishing Roles and Projects
As a result of these allegations, Adjaye has decided to relinquish an advisory position with London Mayor Sadiq Khan. Furthermore, he has withdrawn from various building projects, including the highly anticipated UK Holocaust Memorial and a public library project in Oregon. The library in Oregon has explicitly stated that it has severed all ties with Adjaye’s firm, Adjaye Associates.
Allegations and Denial
The allegations made by the three women are said to pertain to incidents of misconduct that allegedly occurred in 2018 and 2019. Adjaye, however, firmly denies these claims. In response to the accusations, he issued statements to both the Financial Times and CNN, categorically rejecting any accusations of sexual misconduct, abuse, or criminal wrongdoing. Adjaye expressed his distress over the allegations and emphasized that they are contrary to his personal and professional values.
While denying any non-consensual behavior, Adjaye did acknowledge that he had entered into relationships that blurred the boundaries between his professional and personal life. He expressed his deep remorse for these actions and stated his commitment to seeking professional help to learn from his mistakes and prevent their recurrence.
Impact on Careers and Emotional Well-being
The three women who made the allegations were either employees or contracted workers at Adjaye’s architectural practice during the period in question. In interviews with the Financial Times, they revealed that their encounters with Adjaye had profoundly disrupted their careers, causing significant financial hardships and emotional distress.
Resignations and Project Reconsideration
In response to the allegations, Adjaye has voluntarily stepped down from ceremonial roles and trusteeships. London’s Mayor confirmed that Adjaye has “stepped away” from his position as a “Design Advocate.” Additionally, Adjaye has severed his formal association with the Serpentine Galleries in London as a Trustee.
The British Government has been informed by Adjaye Associates that the architect will not be involved in the UK’s forthcoming Holocaust Memorial until the raised issues have been addressed. The development of this memorial, which unveiled its design in 2017, is still awaiting parliamentary approval.
Furthermore, other organizations have taken decisive action in light of the allegations. National Museums Liverpool, for whom Adjaye Associates had been commissioned to redevelop the city’s International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum, acknowledged the seriousness of the allegations but refrained from providing further comments at this time.
Projects on Hold and Cancellations
The Multnomah County Library in Oregon confirmed that Adjaye Associates is no longer associated with the East County Library project. The prime architect of record, Holst Architecture, will continue leading the project as planned. Similarly, the Shelburne Museum in Vermont is currently reviewing its engagement with Adjaye and his firm in light of the troubling allegations.
Additionally, The Trustees, overseeing the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Massachusetts, has decided to put the project with Adjaye on indefinite hold. This project involved exhibiting Adjaye’s sculptural work “Asaase” in the fall of 2021.
Repercussions in the International Sphere
The impact of these allegations extends beyond the United States and the United Kingdom. The African Future Institute, based in Ghana, confirmed that Adjaye stepped away from his role as a patron immediately after the allegations surfaced. Similarly, the African Institute in the United Arab Emirates canceled its plans for a new campus designed by Adjaye Associates, expressing deep concern regarding the reported allegations.
CNN reached out to representatives involved in other ongoing projects with Adjaye Associates globally, such as the Batsheva Arts Center in Tel Aviv, the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library in Johannesburg, and the Barbados Heritage District in Bridgeton. However, no responses have been received thus far.
Celebrated Architectural Legacy of Renowned Architect David Adjaye
David Adjaye is widely regarded as one of the most celebrated architects globally. Notable works include the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, which opened its doors in 2016. In recognition of his exceptional contributions to the field, Adjaye received a knighthood in 2017, having previously been awarded an OBE a decade earlier. Moreover, in 2021, he became the first Black architect to be honored with the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Despite the current circumstances, Adjaye Associates continues to work on significant projects. These include the ongoing redevelopment of the International Slavery Museum and the Batsheva Arts Center, as well as the construction of the National Cathedral of Ghana, the King Salman Park Visitor Center in Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh, and the Quayside waterfront development in Toronto, Canada.