Architect at centre of sexual misconduct allegations 


Albert Dock in Liverpool

Adjaye Associates has been removed from the £57m project to transform the International Slavery Museum on Liverpool’s waterfront in the wake of a series of sexual misconduct allegations against practice founder David Adjaye.

National Museums Liverpool (NML) said it had “taken the decision to terminate the contract with Adjaye Associates” and intended to start an accelerated process for a replacement architect in the coming weeks.

NML confirmed that Ralph Appelbaum Associates, which was leading on exhibition design for the scheme, is still on the project team.

The move comes just over a month after the Financial Times published allegations of sexual assault and harassment by Adjaye against three women who worked for Adjaye Associates.

The 2021 RIBA Gold Medal-winning architect admitted to relationships with the women, which he said were consensual but “blurred the boundaries” between his professional and personal lives.

Adjaye said in July that he was “deeply sorry” to have entered the relationships and would seek professional help, though he has strenuously denied claims of sexual misconduct, abuse and criminal wrongdoing.

He has since been removed from a string of major projects and voluntarily stepped back from a number of ceremonial roles.

David Adjaye knighthood

David Adjaye receiving his knighthood in 2017

The Africa Institute in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, cancelled plans for a major new campus designed by the practice, while the planning application for a controversial tower scheme in Brixton has been withdrawn by the developer.

Adjaye is also no longer involved in both the UK National Holocaust Memorial and the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon, and has stepped down from his role as a design advocate for Sadiq Khan.

The practice beat bids by teams including Haworth Tompkins and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios to win the International Slavery Museum job in June last year.

NML said: “National Museums Liverpool has taken the decision to terminate the contract with Adjaye Associates (AA). 

“We would like to thank the AA team who have worked hard to bring the International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum transformation project, to a developed design stage.

“We remain committed to the project as we continue to build on the momentum already established and intend to start an accelerated tender procurement for new architects in the coming weeks.”

The scheme will see the exhibitions of the two neighbouring museums “elevated and their stories amplified”, according to NML.

A grade I-listed former warehouse now known as the Hartley Pavilion, which houses both museums, will be revamped to improve its circulation and to house new commercial space, retail and a temporary exhibition space.

The Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building, another grade I-listed building which formerly housed the Dock Traffic Office, will become a new entrance to the International Slavery Museum.

NML director Laura Pye said at the time of the appointments that the pairing of the two teams will “create something truly groundbreaking”.

She said: “To be bringing two such visionary designers with international reputations to the project represents the bold ambition and thinking behind it.”

Adjaye Associates has been contacted for comment.