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Sir David Adjaye has been forced to distance himself from a series of roles and projects after a Financial Times investigation revealed three female former employees had accused the renowned architect of serious misconduct, including sexual assault.
The architect has achieved global prominence in recent years. His company has been commissioned to design the UK’s Holocaust memorial as well as Ghana’s national cathedral in Accra and a museum of west African art in Benin City, Nigeria.
The UK government department overseeing the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London, said it was “aware” of the allegations and that Adjaye’s architectural practice, Adjaye Associates, had confirmed “Sir David will not be involved” in the memorial’s design “until the issues raised have been addressed”.
It was unclear how Adjaye Associates plans to tackle the accusations or how Adjaye as head of the company would distance himself from the Holocaust memorial project that his company is still designing.
Adjaye has also stepped down as a trustee of the prestigious Serpentine Galleries of contemporary art in London. The organisation said: “We have accepted his resignation with immediate effect.”
In addition, the architect has given up a role as an adviser to the mayor of London Sadiq Khan. The mayor’s spokesperson said: “Sir David Adjaye has stood down from his role as a design advocate.” The mayor’s design advocates were chosen “to shape a better city by promoting quality and inclusion in the built environment”.
In a statement via his spokesperson, Adjaye said he was stepping down so that the allegations do “not become a distraction”.
He added: “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.”
The three women formerly employed by the practice have accused Adjaye and his practice of different forms of exploitation — from alleged sexual assault and sexual harassment by him to a toxic work culture — that have gone unchecked for years.
Separately, the East County Library project in the US state of Oregon, which Adjaye Associates was working on, said on Tuesday that the company was “no longer associated” with it and “that action was completed prior to the publication” of the FT’s story.
Adjaye has enjoyed international success from designing the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, which has been one of the biggest achievements of his career, to the Abrahamic Family House, which includes a mosque, church and synagogue in Abu Dhabi.