Studio Museum in Harlem and Other Clients Cut Ties to David Adjaye

Harlem’s Studio Museum announced Thursday that it has taken an important step in parting ways with charismatic Ghanaian-British architect David Adjayi, who is building a new home in Manhattan. The library project in Portland, Oregon is running without him. A sculpture park in Lincoln, Massachusetts, has canceled a planned exhibition of his work for the fall. Other cultural institutions from Princeton, New Jersey to Liverpool, England, have also expressed serious concern following allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against Ajayi that surfaced this week.

“The alleged conduct is contrary to the founding principles and values ​​of The Studio Museum,” said museum director Raymond J. McGuire in a statement to The New York Times.

Ajayi himself said in a statement that he was withdrawing from completing the Studio Museum project “with the heaviest of hearts”, adding that he “cannot bear the possibility that the accusations against me will foul and distract the museum.” “

Financial Times, Tuesday report Three women, unnamed in the article, were accused of “many forms of exploitation, ranging from sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations to toxic work cultures that have been unchecked over the years” by Mr. Ajayi and him. The company is said to have been sued.

For perhaps the world’s first black ‘architect’, the accusations are about how the issue will affect his business and future projects, including many already underway. It invites complicated speculation. Ajayi has denied the accusations.

“We categorically reject any allegations of sexual misconduct, abuse or criminal conduct,” Ajayi said in a statement released Tuesday by telecoms and crisis management firm Kendall Advisory. “These allegations are false, painful to me and my family, and go against everything I stand for.”

“I am embarrassed that I have entered into a relationship that blurs the line between my professional life and my personal life,” he added. “I will immediately seek professional help to learn from these mistakes and make sure they don’t happen again,” he said.

Given the inherent power imbalance, a strict policy against executives associating with their subordinates is generally the norm. For example, in 2016, former director of Lincoln Center, Jed Bernstein, was forced to resign as director of the Lincoln Center due to his relationship with staff.

Adjaye has offices in London, New York and Accra, Ghana. was given the title of knight Appointed by Queen Elizabeth II in 2017, he has resigned from many posts following the allegations. These include being an architectural advisor to the Mayor of London and being part of the team working on the project. holocaust memorial in england Next to Westminster Palace. In his statement, Ajayi said he did not want the allegations to “get in the way” of these projects.he also agreed to leave Large Residential Project in Chicagothe Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday.

Adjayi’s global architectural commission includes the recently completed 130 William residential tower in Lower Manhattan and a successful charter school housed in a former ice warehouse in the Bronx.

Among the company’s long-awaited projects in the United States are: Princeton’s New University Art Museumlocated in Princeton, New Jersey, currently under construction.

“We find the nature of the allegations very disturbing,” said James Steward, director of the Princeton University Museum. “It is safe to say that most of our work with Ajayi is over.

The Multnomah County Library in Portland said: statement On Wednesday it was announced that “Ajay Associates is no longer associated with the Multnomah County and East County Library Projects.” Holst’s architectureThe local partner said it will “continue design and construction as planned.”

Detroit-based developer Bedrock, which has hired Ajay Associates for its large-scale revitalization of Cleveland’s waterfront, said Thursday “in light of” the serious allegations that the business association will continue to move forward with the project. are being evaluated,” he said.

Ajayi recently made a foray into sculpture. A giant spiral made of crushed New York City limestone feature To be held at Gagosian Gallery in 2021.

The Trustees, the organization that runs the De Córdoba Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, which had planned to display Adjaye’s clay sculptures this fall, said in an email Thursday that the exhibition would be “disabled.” It has been put on hold for a certain period of time,” he said. “

Because the accusations have only surfaced, experts with ties to Ajayi said they would speak only on condition of anonymity until more information is available.

But some people who worked closely with Ajayi and often considered themselves friends of him, were compelled to do the same for the famous architect Richard Meyer. As such, it was suggested that the architect either hand over the work to a colleague or withdraw from the day-to-day business. Following the 2018 sexual harassment accusations.

Ajayi’s continued involvement with the committee will depend in part on the stage of development of the project, according to people familiar with the matter. Like the Princeton Museum of Art, a museum currently under construction could go on without him, but it would miss out on the architect’s former star power. (According to the Studio Museum, the building will be completed by the New York-based team of Ajayi Associates and record-breaking architect Cooper Robertson.) People in the architectural world are also voicing Adjayi. I wondered out loud how the people at the office would react. to resign.

Adjaye has resigned from the board of directors of London’s acclaimed contemporary art gallery, the Serpentine Gallery. “We accepted his resignation.” Effective immediately,” a museum spokesperson said in an email. Ajayi also resigned from the Serpentine Committee, which makes up the pavilion’s high profile committee each summer (past winners include Rem Koolhaas and Theaster Gates).

Several of Ajayi’s clients said the accusations could jeopardize their projects, stall progress, stymie fundraising and damage public perception, and Ajayi told the Financial Times He said he was unable to inform them about the article. Prepare your own damage control.

It remains to be seen whether the charges against Ajayi will affect his completed or nearly completed projects. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., which opened in 2016, is closely associated with Ajayi, and its success is widely believed to have contributed to the architect’s celebrity status.

Lonnie G. Bunch III, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and founder of the African American Museum, declined to comment.

While some publics are determined to deny the creative works of cultural figures accused of wrongdoing, such as Chuck Close paintings, Woody Allen films, and Michael Jackson music, It is even more difficult to undo a building with its strength and permanence. Breaking them down or turning away is more difficult.

Ajayi’s fall from glory is particularly evident given how high he has risen. In 2021, Ajayi will received In a video message, President Barack Obama, recipient of one of the world’s highest honors, the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Royal Gold Medal, described the architect’s work as “genius, pure and simple.”

RIBA said in a statement Wednesday that it “will not hesitate to take appropriate action if its standards are found not to be met”.

representative of Liverpool National Museum, Ajayi, who is redeveloping the International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum, said in an email that he “takes the allegations described very seriously.”

In Ghana, where Ajayi’s success is a source of great pride, the news media widely covered the allegations, often highlighting the architect’s vehement denials.

But Ghanaian opposition politician Sam Okuzet Abrakwa said in a telephone interview that Ajayi should withdraw from the cathedral project and “should be told to clear his name before getting involved any further.”

“This should be a symbol of holiness and integrity,” Abraqwa said. “These claims don’t apply to that.”

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