Q&A: Sir David Adjaye

INTERVIEWED BY Lindi Brownell Meiring IMAGES (Smithsonian NMAAHC) Alan Karchmer

In the latest issue of VISI (VISI 89), we chat to esteemed Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates to find out more about his first major project in Southern Africa, Hallmark House. You’ll find everything you need to know about this exciting endeavour on page 140.

We also wanted to find out more about one of 2016’s most talked about architectural projects, namely the $540 million Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, which was headed up by Adjaye Associates. Below, Sir David talks us through this design, as well as what we can expect next from this renowned firm.

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture recently opened its doors to the public. What message did you want to bring across in the design of this important, iconic building?

It has been a real honour to be involved in the creation of this monumental building on Washington D.C.’s historic National Mall. My hope is that the museum will transcend the uneasy fact of racial tension through an open exploration of history, culture and society – thereby addressing profound aspects of the human condition and the positive value inherent in creating a forum for multiple interpretations of America’s history and demography – however uncomfortable those may be.

Which one of your projects across the globe are you most proud of, and why?

The Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture is certainly a career-defining project – but they are all memorable. Each one of my projects is part of a curve – a critical piece of a narrative that is still unfolding. It’s exciting to me to be at a stage in my career where I have built enough work to be able to allow these themes to begin to reveal themselves. In fact, my most recent book – Constructed Narratives – is very much about drawing out the through-lines in my work.

What can we look forward to seeing next from Adjaye Associates?

We have a very exciting portfolio of ongoing work across the globe at the moment. We’re designing the new Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art in Riga and a new headquarters for the International Finance Corporation in Dakar. In the States, we’re working on a new home for the Studio Museum in Harlem and our first urban masterplan in San Francisco. And in London we have two mixed-use developments, one in Piccadilly and the other adjacent to Trafalgar Square.

View more projects at adjaye.com. Read the full interview with Sir David Adjaye on page 140 of our Autumn Issue (VISI 89).