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Sir David Adjaye in line for 2021 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture

September 30 2020

Sir David Adjaye in line for 2021 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture

The Royal Institute of British Architects has confirmed that Sir David Adjaye will be awarded the 2021 Royal Gold Medal for Architecture, following approval by the Queen.

Awarded to a group or individual demonstrating significant direct or indirect influence on the advancement of architecture the accolade recognises a career dedicated to both practice and teaching in the UK and US.

Founded in 2000 Adjaye Associates has offices in Accra, London and New York and is best known for work to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. Current projects include the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London as well as the National Cathedral of Ghana in Accra and the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library in Johannesburg.

Adjaye remarked: "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. 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.”

The award committee was chaired by RIBA president Alan Jones who 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.

"I believe his both practising and teaching in schools of architecture has significantly enriched his work. His artistic and social vision has created public projects that perfectly demonstrate the civic potential of architecture – fostering empathy, identity and pride."

Adjaye was knighted in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to architecture following an OBE in 2007.

Portrait by Chris Schwagga

Adjaye is best known for designing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Image by Alan Karchmer
Adjaye is best known for designing the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Image by Alan Karchmer
UK projects include the Ideas Store in Whitechapel
UK projects include the Ideas Store in Whitechapel


Wee Pamela
#1 Posted by Wee Pamela on 30 Sep 2020 at 19:10 PM
It's depressing when architectects who produce such generic and mediocre designs win the top awards. Excellence doesn't seem to be the priority for giving out awards these days.
The Only Peace Maker
#2 Posted by The Only Peace Maker on 30 Sep 2020 at 19:30 PM
Everyone's a Critic
#3 Posted by Everyone's a Critic on 1 Oct 2020 at 09:18 AM
#1 and #2 Get a grip. David Adjaye is one of the better architects of the past 25 years. Contributed many brilliant buildings and a huge variety of projects. Well deserved in my opinion.
Sloppy Jalopy
#4 Posted by Sloppy Jalopy on 1 Oct 2020 at 11:20 AM
In society these days it's hard to know when prizes are given out on merit alone, when so many vocal people are obsessed with a prize winner's identity rather than the quality of their work.
#5 Posted by BT on 1 Oct 2020 at 12:36 PM
I think it's pretty safe to say Adjaye deserves the award on merit alone.

Well done to him and his team.
#6 Posted by Cadmonkey on 1 Oct 2020 at 13:14 PM
That office block looks like a poor mans version of The Sentinel office building in Glasgow.
Just sayin....
Damp Proof Membrane
#7 Posted by Damp Proof Membrane on 1 Oct 2020 at 16:44 PM
#4 Do you think that the previous historic winners being white had nothing to do with their winning and they all won on merit? They didn't. It's called white privilege. Identity has always been a factor but now that some non-white people are getting some very well-deserved accolades identity is suddenly a problem.
And #1 and #2, as for his work being generic and boring (chuckle), who else's work does his look like or mimic?
#6 The Idea Store in Whitechapel isn't an office block.
Well done to David Adjaye and his team.
Go Woke Go Broke
#8 Posted by Go Woke Go Broke on 1 Oct 2020 at 18:53 PM
#7 Damp Proof Membrane aka Robin DiAngelo
Erna Solstad
#9 Posted by Erna Solstad on 1 Oct 2020 at 22:22 PM
The Idea Store in Whitechapel is just another generic glass box worthy of a carbucle award.
Jamie Brown
#10 Posted by Jamie Brown on 2 Oct 2020 at 09:41 AM
Wow! The comments on this site often seem a bit baffling / disappointing / disengaged, but #1, #2 ("generic and mediocre", "boring") Eh?! I wonder if you could describe your understanding of the architecture of a dozen of his buildings and how that supports your categorisation of his 25 years of work?

#6 - "office block" - again, startling ignorance of the work you're looking at.

In my opinion, based on reading about his work in 'Houses' and 'Making Public Buildings' more than a decade ago, and in seeing how the work has developed in to larger scale projects, this award is well deserved.
#11 Posted by Abi on 2 Oct 2020 at 11:02 AM
I had to check it wasn't April the 1st when I saw he won, almost every design of his I've seen is a carbuncle. There’s no point having awards ceremonies anymore, what’s the point rewarding poor design.

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