the royal institute of british architects (RIBA) has announced that sir david adjaye will receive the 2021 royal gold medal, one of the world’s highest honors for architecture. the medal is approved personally by her majesty the queen and is given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence ‘either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture’. adjaye’s practice, adjaye associates, was founded in 2000 and today has studios in accra, london, and new york, with projects across the world.

david adjaye 2021 royal gold medal
portrait of david adjaye
image © chris schwagga 

 

 

‘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,’ says david adjaye. ‘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.’

david adjaye 2021 royal gold medal
aïshti foundation, beirut | read more about the project on designboom here
image by julien lanoo

 

 

adjaye has achieved international attention for a body of work that spans more than 25 years. drawing on his cited influences including ‘contemporary art, music and science to african art forms and the civic life of cities’, his completed projects range from private houses, exhibitions and furniture design, through to major cultural buildings and city masterplans. from the start of his career he has combined practice with teaching in schools of architecture in the UK and the USA, including professorships at the universities of harvard, michigan, pennsylvania and princeton.

david adjaye 2021 royal gold medal
sugar hill mixed-use development, new york | read more about the project on designboom here
image by leonid furmansky

 

 

‘at every scale, from private homes to major arts centers, one senses david adjaye’s careful consideration of the creative and enriching power of architecture,’ says RIBA president alan jones. ‘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 practicing 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.’

david adjaye 2021 royal gold medal
specere kielder, scotland
image by james T M towill

 

 

adjaye associates is known for the smithsonian national museum of african american history and culture, in washington, DC (2016), while other completed buildings include: ‘ruby city’, an art center in san antonio, texas (2019); and the ‘sugar hill’ mixed use development in harlem, new york (2015). ongoing projects include a new home for the studio museum in harlem; 130 william, a high-rise residential tower in new york’s financial district; the princeton university art museum in new jersey; the george street sydney plaza in sydney, australia; and the abrahamic family house, an interfaith complex in abu dhabi. see all projects by adjaye and his firm on designboom here.

sir david adjaye awarded 2021 royal gold medal for architecture
rivington art place, london
image by lyndon douglas

sir david adjaye awarded 2021 royal gold medal for architecture
ideas store whitechapel, london
image courtesy of adjaye associates

sir david adjaye awarded 2021 royal gold medal for architecture
francis gregory library, washington DC
image by edmund sumner

sir david adjaye awarded 2021 royal gold medal for architecture
ruby city, san antonio | read more about the project on designboom here
image by dror baldinger

sir david adjaye awarded 2021 royal gold medal for architecture
smithsonian national museum of african american arts and culture, washington DC
image by alan karchmer | read more about the project on designboom here