02/25/2015 12:20 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Retrospective of Architect David Adjaye Examines His Prolific Body of Work


When the ongoing visual transformation of London is discussed, the most obvious architectural players are the big hitters like Norman Foster, Richard Rogers and Zaha Hadid. But one other architect has arguably done more in a quieter way to not just influence the look and feel of the city, but to embody its modern reality.

By Justin Quirk, February 25, 2015

David Adjaye is the British architect responsible for some 50 built projects spanning London, the U.S., Europe and Ghana's capital Accra. His most recent commissions include the design of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., as well as the National Museum of Slavery and Freedom in Cape Coast, Ghana. The Rivington Place Gallery, designed by Adjaye and opened in 2007, in Shoreditch, London has been responsible for some of the city's most impressive studies of black culture, most notably the Black Chronicles exhibitions.

Throughout his career, Adjaye has worked closely with the world of art. As well as designing Chris Ofili's home (Adjaye studied architecture at the Royal College while Ofili was an art student there) and appearing in his painting, "Lime Bar" (recently on show at New York's New Museum, the pair collaborated on "The Upper Room" (2002), a chapel-like, wooden environment holding a series of 13 paintings and now owned by The Tate. Adjaye has also designed homes for artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Dinos Chapman, Lorna Simpson and James Casebere.

In this retrospective study of Adjaye's career, more than 30 of his projects are analyzed and celebrated, with a vast trove of archive material - drawings, models, photographs, videos and material samples - used to look at buildings as wide-ranging as the Moscow School of Management and the MCA Denver. With some of the architect's grandest projects still ahead of him - most notably the National Museum of African American History and Culture currently under construction in Washington, D.C. - this is a fitting time to take stock of Adjaye's work so far.

"David Adjaye: Form, Heft, Material" is on view at Haus der Kunst in Munich through May 31, 2015.

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--Justin Quirk is the Editorial Director of HOUSE magazine, as well as a contributor to the Guardian, Esquire, Shortlist, Stylist, Grazia and The Sunday Telegraph. Quirk is based in London and explores the writing world in the realm of arts and culture.