Sharjah’s Africa Institute Cancels Massive David Adjaye–Designed Campus

The Africa Institute, a research institute in Sharjah that facilitates the study of Africa and its diaspora, is the latest space to cut ties with architect David Adjaye, who was accused of sexual misconduct by three women in a Financial Times report last week.

In addition to maintaining a faculty and hosting students, the Africa Institute is well-known in the art world for mounting exhibitions about African artists. Its shows have appeared at the Sharjah Art Foundation and the Serpentine Galleries in London.

The Financial Times report featured allegations of assault and harassment from three former employees at his firm, Adjaye Associates. Adjaye denied the claims, saying, “These allegations are untrue, distressing for me and my family and run counter to everything I stand for.”

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Adjaye Associates had been selected to design the Africa Institute’s campus, which was to span more than 343,000 square feet and consist of a reddish structure that would rise seven stories tall in parts. Artists were expected to be commissioned to produce site-specific works that would feature in the campus, which was also going to include multiple courtyards.

“The Africa Institute is deeply troubled by the recently reported allegations regarding David Adjaye, and we have made the decision to cancel the building project with Adjaye Associates,” said Hoor Al Qasimi, president of the Africa Institute, in a statement.

She continued, “Our decision will not impact our robust research and educational programming at The Institute’s current facilities. The Africa Institute remains as committed as ever to our fellows, faculty, and staff, and to our mission of training a new generation of critical thinkers in African and African diaspora studies, serving as a model of excellence in research, teaching, and documentation.”

ARTnews has reached out to Adjaye Associates for comment.

The Africa Institute is not the only institution to end its relationship with Adjaye Associates following the Financial Times report. The Studio Museum in Harlem ended its relationship with Adjaye, whose firm had been enlisted to design a new home for the New York institution. Adjaye said that “the prospect of the accusations against me tarnishing the museum and creating a distraction is too much to bear.” Meanwhile, Adjaye resigned from work on a Holocaust memorial for London.

Meanwhile, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, put a presentation of one of Adjaye’s large-scale sculptures on indefinite hold.

But none of these projects have been as grand, both in scale and ambition, as the Africa Institute one, news of which was first announced three years ago.

Adjaye Associates’s work remains on view in venues ranging from the Museum of Modern Art to the Venice Architecture Biennale. The firm is also set to design the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in Delhi and the Princeton University Art Museum in New Jersey.

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