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David Adjaye portrait

David Adjaye steps down from roles after sexual misconduct allegations

British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye has stepped away from a number of roles, including being a design advocate for the mayor of London, after three women reportedly accused him of sexual assault and harassment.

After news of the accusations broke earlier this week Adjaye, who heads up architecture studio Adjaye Associates, has relinquished his role as a design advocate for the mayor of London.

"Sir David Adjaye has stepped away from his role as a Design Advocate," a spokesperson for the mayor of London told Dezeen.

Adjaye was among 50 experts, which also include architects Farshid Moussavi and David Chipperfield, appointed by London mayor Sadiq Khan in 2022 to "shape a better city."

Studio Museum in Harlem "concerned to learn of the allegations"

The architect has also left his role as a trustee at London's Serpentine Galleries.

"We have accepted his resignation with immediate effect," the art galleries told UK newspaper The Financial Times (FT), which first revealed the allegations against Adjaye.

In addition, the Studio Museum in Harlem, whose new home was being designed by Adjaye, has also cut ties with the architect.

"The Board of Trustees of The Studio Museum in Harlem is concerned to learn of the allegations being made against David Adjaye and takes this matter with the greatest of seriousness," the organisation said in a statement.

"The actions being alleged are counter to the founding principles and values of the Studio Museum. The Board of Trustees and David Adjaye have agreed that David will step away from the Museum's building project."

"The design vision is 100 per cent complete," it added. "With the Adjaye Associates New York-based executive team and Cooper Robertson, our executive architect, we are moving forward and approaching substantial completion of construction."

Adjaye steps away from African Futures Institute work

The architect has also stepped away from his formal association with the African Futures Institute, an independent postgraduate school of architecture and public events platform founded by architect Lesley Lokko.

"I have known David Adjaye over the past twenty-five years and, from the sidelines, admired his professional output and his unwavering commitment to putting African architecture and architects at the forefront of global industry," Lokko told Dezeen.

"Although we work in different fields, his support for the African Futures Institute, which I founded in 2021, has been constant," she added.

"I am very grateful for the encouragement he has given the AFI since its inception. He was one of the first to come forward and to believe in it. It is with regret that I received his letter outlining the need to step away from his formal association with the AFI until the matters with which he is currently dealing are resolved."

The architect's work on a building for Oregon's Multnomah County Library has also been cancelled, reported local newspaper The Oregonian.

"Adjaye Associates is no longer associated with Multnomah County and the East County Library project," library spokesperson Shawn Cunningham told the newspaper.

"Holst Architecture has been and remains the prime architect of record for the building, which will continue through design and construction as planned. The County declines to comment further."

Work on Holocaust memorial suspended

Adjaye's involvement in the design of a UK Holocaust memorial, which he was to design together with Israeli architect Ron Arad, has also been suspended, according to a report in US newspaper The New York Times.

"Sir David will not be involved in the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation project until the issues raised have been addressed," a spokesman for the British ministry overseeing the memorial told the newspaper.

In a statement to The New York Times, Adjaye said he was also stepping down from ceremonial roles and trusteeships so the allegations do "not become a distraction".

The allegations against the architect, which were revealed in an article by the FT, came from three women who worked for him in 2018 and 2019 and include sexual harassment and assault.

The women reportedly said dealing with Adjaye caused them serious mental distress and financial difficulties and disrupted their careers. According to the FT, it has corroborated their accounts by looking at contemporaneous emails, text messages and documents and interviewing colleagues, friends and family members with whom they confided.

Adjaye denies "distressing" allegations 

Adjaye has denied the allegations. In a response to the FT, he said: "I absolutely reject any claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or criminal wrongdoing. 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," he added.

"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."

Adjaye is one of the most prominent architects currently working in Britain and was awarded the prestigious RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2021 at a ceremony that featured a speech from former US president Barack Obama.

He received a knighthood for his services to architecture in 2017 and became the fifth architect to be appointed to Britain's Order of Merit.

Update: This article was updated on 10 July 2023 to add information about the Studio Museum project.