Sir David Adjaye OBE, a renowned Ghanaian-British architect has been conferred with the 2021 Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects on behalf of the British monarch. The honorary title is in recognition of an individual’s or group’s substantial contribution to international architect.
“It’s incredibly humbling and a great honor to have my peers recognize the work I have developed with my team and its contribution to the field over the past 25 years,” Adjaye disclosed 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.”
“His work reveals a core belief in the generative power of architecture. In a world that has become polarized he brings politics, art, and science together with architecture, as he works to create a better future. Local and specific and at the same time global and inclusive. His artistic and social vision has created public projects that perfectly demonstrate the civic potential of architecture–fostering empathy, identity, and pride,” said RIBA President, Alan Jones, who is a member of the selection committee.
As recipient of the 2021 Royal Gold Medal prize, Adjaye stamps his name alongside past honorees such as Frank Lloyd Wright (1941), Kenzō Tange (1965), Charles and Ray Eames (1979), Rem Koolhaas (2004), and Zaha Hadid (2016). He becomes the first black architect in the award’s 172 years of excellence to merit such mention.
Born in Dar et Salaam, Tanzania by a Ghanaian diplomat, Adjaye started his architectural journey in 1993 upon graduating with a BA in Architecture at the London South Bank University. From there, he furthered his studies at the Royal College of Art, where he completed with an MA in 1993. Ever since then, Adjaye has been the master developer behind several historical and cultural buildings as well as personal houses belonging to influential figures from around the globe.
Notable amongst his tall list of works include the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo and the Aishti Foundation complex in Beirut. In 2016, he completed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The site where the museum stands comes with a historical background that details it to be the center where enslaved people were once auctioned.
He is again credited for building Ghana’s first national pavilion named ‘Ghana Freedom’ at the Venice Biennale. The pavilion is a representation of Ghana’s history, independence and global presence today. It was named after the song composed by E.T. Mensah in celebration of Ghana’s independence from the British in 1957.
Adjaye also harbors an impressive celebrity clientele list ranging from late designer Alexander McQueen, artist Jake Chapman, actor Ewan McGregor through to British painter Christopher Ofili, whom he designed a new studio and beach house for in Trinidad.
Still in progress projects from Adjaye counts from the National Cathedral for Ghana, Abrahamic Family House interfaith complex in Abu Dhabi, The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Princeton University Art Museum.
In 2017, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and also named amongst Time magazine’s most influential people of the year.