David Adjaye: One of the most important storytellers of our time

AYA shortlists 2017

In this essay written to coincide with his Gold Medal, Simone de Gale traces the architect’s significance from his early years to the present day

Sir David Adjaye is arguably one of the most important architects of our time and has long been celebrated for his ability to combine his artistic sensibilities with ethos for community-driven projects. In 2000, the Ghanaian-British architect founded his studio, which has since grown into an international force operating from three distinct locations (Accra, London and New York), and working on projects across the globe. He has developed a unique capacity to create works that span context and innovation, intimate and public spheres, where the resulting portfolio is underpinned by his quest to discover how architecture can meaningfully represent the connections between people and place.

From receiving his very first award — the RIBA Bronze Medal in 1990 — to being part of Britain’s Most Influential Black Person Powerlist in 2013, to receiving the Isamu Noguchi Award in 2010 and the World Economic Forum (WEF Davos) Crystal Award in 2021, the countless accolades Adjaye has received are emblematic of his design acumen and talent, as well as his commitment to social impact on a global scale. Per the citation from the WEF Davos Crystal Award jury, Adjaye is one of the “most important storytellers of our time, who offers insights into the human challenges that give context to the possibility for change.”

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