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Neom cuts ties with David Adjaye for The Line after sexual misconduct allegations
Saudi Arabia Architecture News - Aug 23, 2023 - 12:33 2770 views
In a latest report, the Architects’ Journal revealed that Neom has cut ties with Adjaye Associates for its controversial The Line project, a 100-mile-long (170-kilometre) linear city planned in Saudi Arabia.
"Neom is no longer working with Adjaye Associates' on the 170km linear city project," a spokesperson for Neom told the Architects’ Journal on 15 August.
Adjaye's practice, Adjaye Associates, was among the high-profile firms working on initial proposals of The Line, alongside Morphosis, Peter Cook, OMA, Peri Cobb Freed & Partners, Studio Fuksas, Tom Wiscombe Architecture, UNStudio, Coop Himmelb(l)au, HOK, Oyler Wu Collaborative.
David Adjaye was accused of sexual misconduct by his three former employees, reported by the Financial Times (FT) for the first time on July 4. Facing multiple allegations of sexual assault, the architect "strongly denied any sexual approach towards them".
According to The Architects' Journal, the Neom spokesperson also confirmed that Adjaye Associates had worked in a "pre-concept architectural stage" on The Line in 2021, while adding that although there were "a number of world-leading architects ... contributing to the design of The Line ... Neom is no longer working with Adjaye Associates."
The Line project as part of Neom project. Image courtesy of Neom
Adjaye Associates' connection with The Line project continued until Neom's latest exhibition, titled Zero Gravity Urbanism – Principles for a New Livability, at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale, as the studio's models were showcased at the exhibition.
The exhibition, displayed from 20 May to 24 September 2023 at Abbazia di San Gregorio, includes international studios' works - such as Bjarke Ingels Group, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Delugan Meissl Associated Architects (DMAA), Fuksas, Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA).
Although the work of many of these architects is currently on display at Neom exhibitions in Riyadh and Venice, Neom chose not to comment on specific design phases of the project, the Architects' Journal reported.
This is not the only project that has disrupted Adjaye's career after the allegations. Adjaye stepped down from his major roles, including serving a design advocate to London mayor Sadiq Khan and association with architecture school the African Futures Institute(AFI), founded by 2023 Venice Biennale curator Lesley Lokko.
Adjaye has also left his role as a trustee of the prestigious Serpentine Galleries in London.
A new home for the The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. Image: Exterior View from 125th Street Plaza, courtesy of Adjaye Associates
Adjaye's major projects were cancelled
Besides losing his significant positions, many of the projects Adjaye was working on were cancelled. The Board of Trustees of The Studio Museum in Harlem cut ties with Adjaye, who was designing a new home for the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York.
The architect's Multnomah County and the East County Library project was cancelled, announced in a statement by the Multnomah County Library.
Moreover, the architect's another large-scale major project, the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, as reported by the Financial Times (FT). The National Museums Liverpool (NML) told the FT that " it felt there were some risks in terms of continuing our contract," for its $72 million project.
The Africa Institute in Sharjah by Adjaye Associates was cancelled. Image © Adjaye Associates
Adjaye Associates had been appointed to create the architectural design of the museum last year, while Ralph Appelbaum Associates was appointed to create its exhibition design.
Adjaye's The Africa Institute and Shelburne Museum projects were dropped
Among the architect's cancelled projects are The Africa Institute in Sharjah. In 2021, Adjaye Associates was appointed to design the red-pigmented 31,882-square-meter campus to become the first center of its kind dedicated to the advanced study, research, and documentation of Africa and the African diaspora located in the Arab world.
The Africa Institute cancelled the project, after sexual misconduct allegations against the architect.
Moreover, the Shelburne Museum severed ties with Adjaye's firm who was working on Vermont’s Shelburne Museum extension.
The museum announced that "Shelburne Museum will no longer be engaging him or his firm, Adjaye Associates, as design architect of a building planned to house the Museum’s collection of Native American art."
"The recent allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against David Adjaye, and his admission of inappropriate behavior, are incompatible with our mission and values, which left the museum with no alternative but to immediately sever ties with the architect and his firm," the museum's CEO Thomas Denenberg said in a statement.
"We remain committed to moving forward with the project and the many other partners and collaborators who have been involved since its conceptualization."
The Princeton University Art Museum, in which Adjaye Associates was appointed to design its new building in 2020, spoke out as related to the allegations. "We find the nature of the accusations enormously troubling," James Steward, the museum’s director, told The New York Times.
"It’s fair to say that most of our work with Adjaye is behind us. We have an obligation to all the people involved in this project to see it to completion." The museum's website continues to list the name of Adjaye and his firm in collaboration with executive architects Cooper Robertson.
The Princeton University Art Museum is currently under construction and is expected to open in spring 2025.
David Adjaye and his firm did not make any comments regarding project cancellations to any media outlet.
Top image in the article: The Line by Neom, courtesy of Neom.