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The rise and rise of Sir David Adjaye

The renowned architect gets honoured with the AJ100 Contribution to the Profession Award

By Gugulethu Mkhabela  | June 18, 2018 | Category

All eyes are on David Adjaye and his architectural firm, Adjaye Associates, (again) after bagging the AJ100 Contribution to the Profession Award at the awards ceremony in the UK on 13 June. According to the Architects Journal, the AJ100 is a ranking of the largest architectural practices in the UK that is measured by the number of qualified architects employed.

The Ghanaian British designer’s career is soaring and does not look like it will reach a plateau any time soon. In 2018 he received a knighthood and was selected as the only architect on the list of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. The lead designer of the impressive Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC is making his mark in the industry in a huge way. His prolific practice has offices in London, New York and now in his ancestral home, Ghana where he is currently designing a new National Cathedral.

Adjaye is currently commissioned to work on high-profile projects that include the National Holocaust Memorial in London, his first New York skyscraper project in Manhattan, the Batsheva Arts Campus in Tel Aviv and The Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art in Northern Europe.

In his acceptance speech aired at the event, he revealed how incredibly shocked, humbled and grateful he was to be nominated by his peers for the AJ100 Contribution to the Profession award. He expressed his sorrow at not being able to attend the event and what an honour it was. ‘I’m happy that the work of my early years caught the imagination of a generation and has maybe offered techniques and routes on how to make contemporary architecture in our time… When I started out in my career, I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for and didn’t have any person of colour to look up to. The people I referred to were dying or dead, which was sad and really tragic.’

Adjaye expressed the importance of inclusion and that his work is always about trying to explore a criticality, a contemporary condition, the times were are living in and to express that in architecture as best as he can. ‘Architecture can transform and edify communities, and that is my ambition and I continue to ask myself every morning, ‘am I still into this thing? And the answer is yes, every single time. I’m moved by how architecture can move and change society and I think it’s up to each generation to continually move architecture and make it relevant.’

Image: Knoll

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