UAE’s Africa Institute Cancels David Adjaye-Designed Campus

David Adjaye (photo by Sean Zanni/Getty Images, edit Valentina Di Liscia/Hyperallergic)

The Africa Institute in Sharjah will no longer move forward with the construction of a new campus designed by David Adjaye in light of the last week’s Financial Times report outlining allegations of sexual misconduct against the Ghanaian-British architect. In a statement provided to Hyperallergic, Africa Institute President Hoor Al Qasimi confirmed that Adjaye’s previously commissioned plans for the Institute’s new building have been canceled entirely.

Al Qasimi expressed that the Africa Institute was “deeply troubled” by the accusations against Adjaye. “Our decision will not impact our robust research and educational programming at The Institute’s current facilities,” she added. The Africa Institute, an interdisciplinary academic research institute established in 2018 for postgraduate studies pertaining to Africa’s history and culture, commissioned Adjaye Associates to design its new United Arab Emirates campus in 2021.

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The Africa Institute joins the Studio Museum in Harlem, the UK Holocaust Memorial, the deCordova Sculpture Park in Massachusetts, and the Multnomah County Library in Portland, which have all parted ways with Adjaye after he was accused of sexual harassment and exploitative behavior by three former female employees. The allegations outlined in the Financial Times’s initial report ranged from late payments and delayed work visas from Adjaye’s architecture firm to instances of the architect’s sexual coercion, assault, and wrongful termination. The names of the three women, who were anonymized in the Times article, were leaked to the public after Adjaye and his attorney complied with the Ghanaian government’s request to review legal documents pertaining to the allegations.

Adjaye has denied the allegations, calling them “untrue.”

“I am ashamed to say that I entered into relationships which though entirely consensual, blurred the boundaries between my professional and personal lives,” the architect said in a statement shared by the crisis management firm Kendal Advisory. Adjaye added that he “will be immediately seeking professional help in order to learn from these mistakes to ensure that they never happen again.”

Hyperallergic has reached out to Adjaye Associates for comment.

A new art museum at Princeton University designed by Adjaye, for which construction began in 2021, is slated to open next year. “We find the nature of the accusations enormously troubling,” Director James Steward told the New York Times. “It’s fair to say that most of our work with Adjaye is behind us. We have an obligation to all the people involved in this project to see it to completion.”

The Counterpublic Triennial in St. Louis, which is exhibiting a sculptural commission by Adjaye at the Griot Museum of Black History, said in a statement last week that it would “assess the best next steps in the days to come in dialogue with our community.”


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