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Sir David Adjaye OBE is an award winning Ghanaian-British architect known to infuse his artistic sensibilities and ethos for community-driven projects. His ingenious use of materials, bespoke designs and visionary sensibilities have set him apart as one of the leading architects of his generation. In 2000, David founded his own practice, Adjaye Associates, which today operates globally, with studios in Accra, London, and New York taking on projects that span the globe. The firm’s work ranges from private houses, bespoke furniture collections, product design, exhibitions, and temporary pavilions to major arts centers, civic buildings, and master plans. His largest project to date, The National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC opened on the National Mall in Washington DC in 2016 and was named Cultural Event of the Year by The New York Times.
In 2017, Adjaye was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and was recognized as one of the 100 most influential people of the year by TIME Magazine. Most recently, Adjaye was announced the winner of the 2021 RIBA Royal Gold Medal. Approved personally by Her Majesty the Queen, the Royal Gold Medal is considered one of the highest honors in British architecture for significant contribution to the field internationally. Sir Adjaye is also the recipient of the World Economic Forum’s 27th Annual Crystal Award, which recognizes his “leadership in serving communities, cities and the environment.”
As a young boy born in 1966 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Adjaye’s childhood saw stability in movement as his father Affram was a diplomat whose work took the family all over the world to places such as Kampala, Nairobi, Cairo, Beirut, Accra, and Jeddah. Adjaye was born into a vibrant era of hope where just previously Kwame Nkrumah had won the country independence from the British in 1957 and the spirit of emancipation was one that influenced the family’s mobilities. In his early adulthood, one of the many prolific projects that evolved out of David’s travels is the ‘Adjaye Africa Architecture: A Photographic Survey of Metropolitan Architecture’. The project took place over a ten year period documenting fifty-four major African cities and showcasing a concise urban history, fact file, maps and satellite imagery that come together in a rigorous analysis and reconceptualization of what African architecture is and can truly be.
A formative moment in Adjaye’s childhood was when he realized the inequities that his brother Emmanuel – who was partially paralyzed — faced when visiting his specialized school. Adjaye noted how inefficient, run-down and degrading the actual facility was. During his university education at South Bank he began to think about designing a facility that would provide better care for the handicapped, a moment he describes as changing everything. He came to the understanding that architecture should serve people and as a prevalent force within all our lives it too should take to the realm of egalitarianism.
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