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Tanzanian-born architect David Adjaye, whose Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., opens this fall, discusses his new project and other recent work with Surface magazine editor-in-chief Spencer Bailey.

A leading practitioner within his field, Adjaye has designed buildings around the world, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Russia and the Sugar Hill development in Harlem.


Co-presented with Surface magazine.


Spencer Bailey is the editor-in-chief at Surface magazine and has interviewed dozens of design behemoths, including Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Tadao Ando. He is the moderator of Design Dialogues’ live talk series, where the artistic community converges to discuss the past, present and future of visual communications. In an upcoming book, Bailey writes about the interior aesthetics of Italian architect and designer Paola Navone. He has also contributed to The New York Times Magazine and Bloomberg Businessweek, and worked for The Daily Beast, Vanity Fair and Esquire. He served on the New York honorary committee for Van Cleef & Arpels’s L’École and on the jury of the 2016 James Beard Restaurant Design Awards. He is a trustee of the Noguchi Museum in Queens, and a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

David Adjaye OBE is one of the leading architects of his generation. Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, his influences range from contemporary culture to African art forms and the civic life of cities. After founding Adjaye Associates in 2000 he quickly won several prestigious commissions, including the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo (2005) and the Idea Stores in London (2005/7). The Moscow School of Management Skolkovo (2010) is one of his largest completed projects. In the United States, Adjaye has designed the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art (2007), two public libraries in Washington DC (2012) and several innovative residential projects. He led the team whose vision created the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, opening this September on Washington DC’s National Mall. Adjaye Associates has also realized the Sugar Hill social housing scheme in Harlem (2015) and the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery at Harvard’s Hutchins Center (2014). Adjaye’s offices in London, New York and Accra develop projects throughout the world, including the Studio Museum in Harlem (ongoing), the International Finance Corporation’s new headquarters in Dakar (ongoing), a shopping and cultural complex in Beirut (2015), a concept store in Lagos (2014) and a pediatric cancer center in Rwanda (ongoing).

Surface is the American magazine of global contemporary design. Launched in 1993 and published ten times a year, the publication is known for engaging editorial content on architecture, art, design, fashion and culture. Surface offers incisive writing, a clean aesthetic and engaging visuals with a distinct emphasis on process and craftsmanship. David Adjaye, Delphine Arnault, André Balazs, Tadao Ando and Rosita Missoni are among those to recently be featured on the cover. Contributors include Marina Cashdan (Artsy), Museum at FIT director and chief curator Valerie Steele, Ben Pundole (A Hotel Life), Bettina Korek (For Your Art) and David Basulto (ArchDaily).

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