Architect David Adjaye Accused of Sexual Harassment
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Sir David Adjaye who is one of the world’s most renowned architect have been accused of sexual assault and harassment by some of his former employees. The British-Ghanaian architect is the principal architect of Adjaye Associates, a global architectural firm that operates in the UK, Ghana and US. A criminal complaint has been made against Adjaye by one of the three women who worked for him between 2018 and 2019 according to Dezeen website. The women complained that dealing with Adjaye has caused them serious mental distress, financial difficulties and disrupted their careers.
Sir David Adjaye have strongly denied the allegations of two of the women, who the British newspaper, the Financial Times (FT) calls Gene and Maya, according to report, Gene and Maya met Adjaye in September 2018 in Accra, where they had moved to set up the Ghana office for Adjaye’s studio, Adjaye Associates. The two women allege that after a dinner, at which they had hoped to speak to Adjaye about problems in connection with the Accra office, they went to Adjaye’s corporate apartment where he sexually harassed and assaulted them.
Through his lawyer, Adjaye denied the incident. His lawyer who told the FT that while the dinner took place and the three went to Adjaye’s apartment after it for a drink, he “strongly denies making any sexual advances towards” them and “categorically denies forcing [Maya] to enter his bedroom and sexually assaulting her”. The lawyer also denied the allegations that Adjaye asked to meet Maya the day after the alleged incident and offered her some money.
Maya, who continued working with the company, also alleges that another incident of sexual harassment took place in mid-2019 in an airport bathroom. Adjaye has denied that he engaged “in sexual activity with her during this encounter”. Maya was reportedly dismissed from the company without notice in January 2020 and made a criminal complaint against Adjaye to the police in South Africa, where the alleged bathroom incident had taken place. Gene was also reportedly dismissed from her job at Adjaye Associates and reached a financial settlement of $40,000 with the studio.
According to FT, Dunia, the third woman, met Adjaye in 2019 and alleges that he sexually harassed her the same year. Dunia, said she began working for him informally after the alleged incident and said she “endured a series of controlling and emotionally abusive sexual encounters with him”. She stopped working for the firm in 2020 and sent the studio a legal letter in 2022 that accused Adjaye of sexual misconduct. Dunia, Gene and Maya are now represented by “an organization that specializes in human rights and whistleblowing”, according to FT. To Adjaye’s lawyer, it’s like a conspiracy theory where each of the women had “their own grievances” against the architect.
In a response to the FT, Sir David Adjaye whose firm Adjaye Associates was also involved in the National Cathedral of Ghana funding dispute said: “I absolutely reject any claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or criminal wrongdoing. These allegations are untrue, distressing for me and my family and run counter to everything I stand for.” “I am ashamed to say that I entered into relationships which, though entirely consensual, blurred the boundaries between my professional and personal lives,” he added. “I am deeply sorry. To restore trust and accountability, I will be immediately seeking professional help in order to learn from these mistakes to ensure that they never happen again.”
THE TOXIC OFFICE WORKING HOURS CLAIM
According to Dezeen website, the FT investigation also found that former Adjaye employees felt the workplace in both London and Accra was “disorganized and frantic”, according to the 13 people that FT spoke to during its investigation. The report has it that a woman said the Accra office had “toxic” working hours, while another claimed Adjaye told her to flirt with clients if needed to get something. According to the FT, the three women accusing Adjaye of sexual misconduct came forward “with the aim to prevent other women from encountering similar abuse and to make public the renowned architect’s private behavior”. The newspaper said it had corroborated their accounts by looking at contemporaneous emails, text messages and documents and interviewing colleagues, friends and family members whom they confided in.
Architect David Adjaye is one of the most prominent architects currently working in Britain and was awarded the prestigious RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2021 at a ceremony that featured a speech from former US president Barack Obama. He also received a knighthood for his services to architecture in 2017 and became the fifth architect to be appointed to Britain’s Order of Merit.
In my opinion I believe that Architect David Adjaye is a responsible man who on his own have worked so hard to get to this peak of his career and have contributed massively to the development of the profession of architecture in the global stage. Adjaye through his firm Adjaye Associates have completed some exclusive projects across the globe that have brought development and inspiration to so many societies around the world. Either these allegations are true or false, I can’t ascertain because I wasn’t there, all I want to say is Architect David Adjaye deserves better.
MJ | Buildace Magazine