Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye OBE is to receive the 2021 Royal Gold Medal, the UK’s highest honour for architecture.
The RIBA Royal Gold Medal is approved personally by Her Majesty The Queen and is given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence ‘either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture’. He is the first Black architect to win the prize in its 173-year history.
Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, Adjaye, 54, has achieved international acclaim for an exceptional body of work in over 25 years of practice.
His projects range from private houses, bespoke furniture collections, product design and exhibitions, to major arts centres and civic buildings.
‘It’s incredibly humbling and a great honour to have my peers recognise the work I have developed with my team and its contribution to the field over the past 25 years,’ he said in a statement.
‘Architecture, for me, has always been about the creation of beauty to edify all peoples around the world equally and to contribute to the evolution of the craft. The social impact of this discipline has been and will continue to be the guiding force in the experimentation that informs my practice. A heartfelt and sincere moment of gratitude and thanks to all the people who supported the journey to get to this moment.’
Adjaye founded in 2001 and today it operates globally, with studios in Accra, London and New York, with projects spanning across the globe.
Perhaps his most well-known project to date is the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., from 2016 (pictured above), which is regarded as one of the most significant cultural landmarks in recent years. It was also named Cultural Event of the Year by The New York Times.
Other highlights include Ruby City, an art centre in San Antonio. Texas (2019); Rivington Place arts centre in Hackney, London (2007); the Sugar Hill mixed-use development in New York (2015); the Idea Stores community libraries in London (2004 & 2005), and Lost House in King’s Cross, London, which is currently on the market for £6.5 million.
Having trained at Southbank University and the Royal College of Art, Adjaye rose to prominence in his 30s with a string of projects, this included private houses for celebrity clients such as Ewan McGregor, Alexander McQueen and Chris Ofili.
Adjaye was knighted in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to architecture following an OBE in 2007.
RIBA President, Alan Jones, said: ‘At every scale, from private homes to major arts centres, one senses David Adjaye’s careful consideration of the creative and enriching power of architecture. His work is local and specific and at the same time global and inclusive. Blending history, art and science he creates highly crafted and engaging environments that balance contrasting themes and inspire us all.’
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