10 Interesting Facts to Know About David Adjaye, Designer of the New Smithsonian Museum

BY: - 23 Sep '16 | Featured

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This weekend, the Smithsonian Institution opens its much anticipated National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian says the new museum is “the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history and culture.”

Well, you’ve likely heard about the big build up behind the museum. But you may not know much about the museum’s actual builder. The extensive project’s lead architect and designer is David Adjaye.

If you haven’t heard about him yet, you will soon, as he is quickly making a name for himself. So we thought we’d give you quick introduction with 10 interesting facts about Adjaye.

  1. Adjaye has had an international upbringing. He was born in Tanzania and has lived in Ghana (his parents’ native country), Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Lebanon, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, London, Portugal and Japan.
  2. His father was a diplomat.
  3. Adjaye is currently based in London. But his design firm, Adjaye Associates, operates worldwide with offices in places such as New York, Ghana and Berlin.
  4. Adjaye is a huge proponent of African architecture. He has dedicated a large part of his life to studying Africa’s storied history and contributions to the world’s architecture. He was particularly fascinated with the influence slaves had on American architecture with their metalsmithing skills.
  5. He got his architectural degree from London South Bank University and master’s degree from London’s Royal College of Art, where he returned to teach.
  6. Adjaye has also held professorships at Princeton University, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania.
  7. Adjaye is practically a self-starter. After college, he immediately started his own practice with a classmate. He then launched Adjaye Associates a few years later.
  8. He is a rising international star in architectural design. In addition to the $360 million Smithsonian museum, another one of his major works includes the $207 million Moscow School of Management (SKOLKOVO) in Russia, which is his firm’s second largest project to date.
  9. He was in the running to design President Obama’s presidential library. The Obamas ultimately chose a New York architectural team.
  10. He just turned 50 on Sept 22
    (And BONUS: he is supposedly a huge fan of Instagram).
Source: Architectural Digest, New York Times, Vogue magazine, Smithsonian

BMWK, are you going to be at the opening of the museum this weekend? Tell us your thoughts about it?

But don’t worry if you can’t make it yet. Check out Adjaye’s work in these architectural photos of the museum below.

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Photo Alan Karchmer for the Smithsonian

Photo Alan Karchmer for the Smithsonian

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About the author

Nina Hemphill Reeder wrote 71 articles on this blog.

Nina Reeder is the assistant editor at BMWK. Reeder is a professional journalist, who has contributed for publications and outlets, such as Ebony magazine, AOL.com, Marriott Hotels and more. She has also worked as the senior editor at Upscale magazine, a national lifestyle/entertainment magazine.


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