Architect Sir David Adjaye faces misconduct allegations
Sir David Adjaye, the renowned Ghanaian-British architect, has been embroiled in allegations of serious misconduct.
Adjaye, who designed Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, D.C., faces allegations of exploitation, the Financial Times reported.
Three women, who requested anonymity, accused Adjaye and his firm of various forms of misconduct, ranging from sexual assault and harassment to fostering a toxic work culture.
The women, who were all in their 40s and black when the alleged abuse occurred, claim that their association with Adjaye disrupted their careers, led to financial difficulties, and caused severe mental distress.
The allegations include Adjaye allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in an airport bathroom. The alleged victim’s complaints were then dismissed, according to the FT.
One woman who stepped forward said Adjaye — who was seen as a champion of racial and gender diversity in the architectural field — told her Black women were “low-hanging fruit,” which meant they were “easy, cheap — like we are sitting waiting to be picked.”
“If I was white he would have had respect for my body,” the woman said.
Another woman said while she was on a business trip with Adjaye she discovered she was expected to stay in his bedroom.
The women said they joined Adjaye’s firm not only to support their families but also because they believed in his mission to promote Black talent in the architectural industry.
Adjaye denied the allegations, though he admitted having intimate relationships with women whom he interacted with professionally.
“I absolutely reject any claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or criminal wrongdoing,” Adjaye told the FT. “These allegations are untrue, distressing for me and my family and run counter to everything I stand for. … I am ashamed to say that I entered into relationships which though entirely consensual, blurred the boundaries between my professional and personal lives. I am deeply sorry. To restore trust and accountability, I will be immediately seeking professional help in order to learn from these mistakes to ensure that they never happen again.”
He subsequently stepped down as an adviser to the mayor of London and he was suspended from his work on a British Holocaust memorial, the New York Times reported.
It’s a stunning development for Adjay, whom then-President Barack Obama labeled a “genius” and who has received myriad accolades including a Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects, a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II and becoming a member of the Order of Merit last November by King Charles III.
His work in the U.S. includes 130 William in Manhattan, the planned new Studio Museum in Harlem, a riverfront master plan in Cleveland and a reconstruction of the Princeton University Art Museum, according to the New York Times.