After the Financial Times published a report containing allegations of sexual misconduct, architect David Adjaye has continued to face fallout, with US art spaces reconsidering presentations of his work.
The de Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, said it would no longer present a large Adjaye sculpture this fall as planned. Meanwhile, the Counterpublic triennial in St. Louis said it would initiate a community dialogue over another sizable installation by Adjaye included in that show.
The Financial Times report featured allegations from three women who made claims of sexual assault, harassment, and misconduct. They also accused Adjaye’s firm, Adjaye Associates, of fostering a “toxic work culture,” according to the report.
“I absolutely reject any claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or criminal wrongdoing,” Adjaye told the Financial Times. “These allegations are untrue, distressing for me and my family and run counter to everything I stand for.” He said he would seek professional help following the accusations.
Adjaye is widely regarded as one of the celebrated architects in the world, with significant clout in the art world as the designer of institutions such as the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Designs for his architectural projects and his large-scale sculptures have also been celebrated in museum surveys and group shows at commercial galleries such as Gagosian.
Adjaye, who is one of the most acclaimed museum architects in the world, is currently at work on buildings for the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in Delhi, the Princeton University Art Museum in New Jersey, the Museum of West African Art in Benin City, and the Africa Institute in Sharjah. A sculpture by his firm also appears in the current edition of the Venice Architecture Biennale in Italy, and Adjaye Associates has around 10 works in a current Museum of Modern Art show about the relationship between architecture in New York and the public.
At the inaugural edition of Counterpublic, a new St. Louis triennial for public art, Adjaye debuted his first-ever permanent public sculpture, a new rammed-earth piece called Asaase III that surrounds the Griot Museum of Black History. In a recent interview with ARTnews, he described it as being “how I imagine an ideal city—a city that is in symbiosis with the Earth.”
“Counterpublic stands against all forms of abuse, and supports survivors, especially Black women who are survivors. We became aware of the allegations against David Adjaye through public reporting, and take these claims seriously,” the triennial said in a statement.
That statement continued, “We will assess the best next steps in the days to come in dialogue with our community and commit to operating from a place of transparency and integrity across all of our efforts as we move forward. Our priority throughout this exhibition has always been to seed civic and cultural investment in The Griot Museum of Black History, and its surrounding community of St. Louis Place. The sculptural commission is just one part of that. Our ongoing commitment is to ensure The Griot’s continued expansion as an essential gathering space. This is true in this moment, and beyond.”
A similar large-scale installation, Asaase (2021), was slated to appear outdoors at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum this October. That work had formerly appeared in the acclaimed 2021 show “Social Works” at Gagosian, whose description for the work stated that it references West African architecture.
“In light of recent, serious allegations, The Trustees is placing our project with David Adjaye on indefinite hold,” the sculpture park’s Trustees of Reservations said. “We are grateful to the staff and supporters who have spent a considerable amount of time and energy preparing for the installation of Asaase.”
A spokesperson for Adjaye Associates did not respond to a request for comment.
Adjaye has already stepped away from certain projects in London. He suspended his work on a planned Holocaust memorial for the city, and he resigned from his post as architectural adviser to the mayor of London. He also reportedly quit his post as a board member of the Serpentine Galleries, according to the New York Times.
Of his decision to give up these roles, he told the Financial Times, “Although I continue to strongly reject the very serious allegations against me, it is important that they do not become a distraction for those organisations where I hold a personal role. In order to focus on restoring trust and accountability, I have agreed to stand aside from those personal roles with immediate effect.”
Also on Tuesday, the Oregonian reported that the Multnomah County Library in Portland had severed ties with Adjaye Associates on a project to build a new flagship space.