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David Adjaye steps down from his major roles following sexual assault allegations

United Kingdom Architecture News - Jul 11, 2023 - 12:31   1430 views

David Adjaye steps down from his major roles following sexual assault allegations

Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye has been stepped down from his major roles following the allegations of sexual misconduct by three of his former employees, in which one of his roles were including a design advocate to London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Few of his major roles were 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.

After an in-depth investigation of The Financial Times based on the accusations of sexual misconduct by his former three employees, many institutions and organizations have cut ties with the acclaimed architect. 

David Adjaye, who is the founder of architecture studio Adjaye Associates, has stepped away from his role as a design advocate for the mayor of London, as reported by The Financial Times.  

Adjaye, 56, was on a panel of independent experts with high-profile practitioners such as Farshid Moussavi, Hanif Kara, David Chipperfield to help London become an even better city.

A spokesperson for the mayor of London told the FT that "Sir David Adjaye has stood down from his role as a design advocate."

Adjaye has also left his role as a trustee of the prestigious Serpentine Galleries in London. "We have accepted his resignation with immediate effect," the art galleries told the FT. 

David Adjaye steps down from his major roles following sexual assault allegations

A new home for the The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. Image: Exterior View from 125th Street Plaza, courtesy of Adjaye Associates

"David will step away from the Museum's building project"

The Board of Trustees of The Studio Museum in Harlem has also cut ties with Adjaye, who was designing a new home for the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York.

"The Board of Trustees of The Studio Museum in Harlem is concerned to learn of the allegations being made against David Adjaye and takes this matter with the greatest of seriousness," The Studio Museum said in a statement

"The actions being alleged are counter to the founding principles and values of the Studio Museum." 

"The Board of Trustees and David Adjaye have agreed that David will step away from the Museum’s building project. The Museum initiated this project to advance its mission of advocating for and supporting artists of African descent. The design vision is 100% complete."

"With the Adjaye Associates New York-based Executive Team and Cooper Robertson, our executive architect, we are moving forward and approaching substantial completion of construction," it added.

Adjaye stepped away from his role at African Futures Institute

Adjaye has also stepped away from his role at the African Futures Institute, a postgraduate school of architecture and public events platform founded in 2020 by Lesley Lokko - who is the curator of the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale

David Adjaye was among the Board of Patrons at the African Futures Institute, alongside Hanif Kara, Margaret Nkrumah, Kwame Anthony Appiah. 

"I have known David Adjaye over the past twenty-five years and, from the sidelines, admired his professional output and his unwavering commitment to putting African architecture and architects at the forefront of global industry," Lesley Lokko told Building Design.

She added that "Although we work in different fields, his support for the African Futures Institute, which I founded in 2021, has been constant."

"I am very grateful for the encouragement he has given the AFI since its inception. He was one of the first to come forward and to believe in it."

"It is with regret that I received his letter outlining the need to step away from his formal association with the AFI until the matters with which he is currently dealing are resolved," Lokko stated. 

Adjaye's Multnomah County and the East County Library project has been cancelled

The architect's Multnomah County and the East County Library project has also been cancelled, announced in a statement by the Multnomah County Library.

"Adjaye Associates is no longer associated with Multnomah County and the East County Library project," stated the organization. 

"Holst Architecture has been and remains the prime architect of record for the building, which will continue through design and construction as planned." 

"The County declines to comment further," it added.

David Adjaye steps down from his major roles following sexual assault allegations

David Adjaye's firm Adjaye Associates, Ron Arad Architects and Gustafson Porter + Bowman were selected as the winners of the UK's new Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in 2017. Image © 2017 Malcolm Reading Consultants Limited. Images: Malcolm Reading Consultants/Emily Whitfield-Wicks

His involvement in the design of a UK Holocaust memorial, which he was designing together with Ron Arad Architects and Gustafson Porter + Bowman, has reportedly been suspended.

A spokesman for the British ministry overseeing the memorial project told The New York Times that "Sir David will not be involved in the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation project until the issues raised have been addressed."

In a statement to The New York Times, he affirmed that he would give up all "ceremonial roles and trusteeships so that the allegations did "not become a distraction".

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), which the organization awarded David Adjaye the 2021 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture, told the FT that the allegations were "serious and concerning", it said it would not comment "until all the relevant facts have been determined."

The allegations against the architect came from three former employees who worked for Adjaye in 2018 and 2019 and included sexual assault and harrassment, which were revealed in a 4,000-word investigation by the FT

Three women accused Adjaye and his firm, Adjaye Associates, of "different forms of exploitation — from alleged sexual assault and sexual harassment by him to "a toxic work culture — that have gone unchecked for years."

Adjaye: "I absolutely reject any claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or criminal wrongdoing"

Adjaye denied all the allegations and he sent a letter to the FT and said: "I absolutely reject any claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or criminal wrongdoing. These allegations are untrue, distressing for me and my family and run counter to everything I stand for."

"I am ashamed to say that I entered into relationships which though entirely consensual, blurred the boundaries between my professional and personal lives," Adjaye continued. 

"I am deeply sorry. To restore trust and accountability, I will be immediately seeking professional help in order to learn from these mistakes to ensure that they never happen again," he added.

David Adjaye is one of the most acclaimed architects in the world, whose offices take place in London, New York and Accra. 

In 2017, Adjaye was named as the world’s most influential architect by TIME Magazine. He received the Knight Bachelor award as part of the Queen's biannual honours programme after "his contributions to architecture and design across the United Kingdom."

Top image: David Adjaye. Image © Ed Reeve.

> via The Financial Times 


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