David Adjaye’s Smithsonian African American history museum wins Design of the Year 2017

David Adjaye-designed The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC has been recognised as Design of the Year for 2017.

Awarded by the Beazley Designs of the Year competition, an awards programme organised by the Design Museum in London, the African American museum was described by the judges as a “major turning point” in architecture.

The building was awarded both overall winner and winner of the architecture category, designed by Adjaye’s firm Adjaye Associates, in collaboration with Davis Brody Bond, The Freelon Group and SmithGroupJJR – all based in the US.

The building is made up of three stacked volumes including a triple-height gallery space inside as well as a theatre located underground.

The façade of the building references the history of African American craftsmanship, featuring bronze plates that are perforated with intricate patterns.

Adjaye was awarded the overall design prize for the competition at a ceremony held at the Design Museum last week (25 January, 2018).

The judges said the building was selected for being a “reminder that design enables a diverse conversation and can challenge the dominant political discourse”.

“Not only is this a striking and already iconic structure at the heart of America’s capital, but it’s the realisation of an entire century of planning, rejection, political opposition and finally collaborative execution,” said a jury member.

“We felt that, in the context of today’s strident American debate on race and identity, Adjaye’s achievement represented optimism.”


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