The architect David Adjaye and his firm, Adjaye Associates, have completed fifty projects on four continents, including the Whitechapel Idea Stores in London, the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, the Moscow School of Management, the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, and flood-resistant houses in New Orleans. His international profile soared in 2009 when he, as part of a team that included the Freelon Group and Davis Brody Bond, won the competition to design the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The $500 million project, likely to be the last new construction on the National Mall, is among the most anticipated works of architecture scheduled for completion in 2016. The Art Institute of Chicago mounted a major exhibition of his work in 2015. Late last year it was announced that Adjaye Associates was one of seven firms invited to submit proposals to design the Barack Obama Presidential Center.
Adjaye’s projects resist stylistic characterization, driven as they are by an approach that is rooted in place and strongly attuned to identity, the lessons of tradition, and the value of craft. His attentiveness to place isn’t surprising, given his peripatetic life. Born in Tanzania as the son of a Ghanaian diplomat, he lived in Egypt, Yemen, and Lebanon before moving to Britain at the age of nine. He has also spent more than a decade documenting urban life in Africa, an ongoing personal project described as a “geocultural survey of African cities in a global context.”