director of the studio museum in harlem
David Adjaye named world's most influential architect by Time magazine
"Architectural visionary" David Adjaye has been named among Time magazine's 100 most influential people of 2017 – and is the only architect to make the list

“Architectural visionary” David Adjaye has been named among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2017 – and is the only architect to make the list.

While last year BIG founder Bjarke Ingels was the sole architect on the prestigious Time 100, this year only British architect Adjaye was recognised.

The accolade follows a momentous year for the Adjaye Associates founder, who recently turned 50. He completed the career-defining Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, won the London Design Medal and received a knighthood.

In a citation written by Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Adjaye-designed Studio Museum in Harlem, the architect is described as “one of the great architectural visionaries of our time”.

“His work – deeply rooted in both the present moment and the complex context of history – has envisioned new ways for culture to be represented and reflected in the built environment,” said Golden.

“Nowhere is this more evident than in his recent triumph on the National Mall,” she continued.

“Every architect has to contend with gravity – but when David designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the challenges of that elemental force went far beyond the ordinary.”

Time 100 is an annual ranking of the people the US magazine judges to be the most influential in America. Other creatives on this year’s list include fashion designer Raf Simons, filmmaker Cindy Sherman and writer Margaret Atwood.

Adjaye said he was “truly humbled” to be among them.

“Having the opportunity to design the National Museum of African American History and Culture has been one of the greatest honours of my career,” he said.

“To be included on this list is a testament to the power of this institution and its wide-reaching resonance.”

Adjaye was born in Tanzania, but is now based in London.

He made his name on projects including the Dirty House and the Stephen Lawrence Centre, both in London, but is increasingly working abroad, with projects in North America and Africa, as well as Continental Europe.

Upcoming projects include a cancer treatment centre in Rwanda and a major new art museum in Latvia.

He ranked at number 41 on the inaugural Dezeen Hot List – our own countdown of important names in architecture and design, generated by audience statistics.

On December 12, Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem, will speak about the groundbreaking 1994 Whitney exhibition Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art and its afterlives with writer Hilton Als and art historian and critic Huey Copeland. Register now!

Installation view of Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, November 10, 1994–March 5, 1995) Photograph by Geoffrey Clements


18 Museums in New York City Pair Off for a #MuseumInstaSwap

Check out the #MuseumInstaSwap hashtag on Instagram to learn more about the project.

JiaJia Fei, digital director at the Jewish Museum (@thejewishmuseum) in New York City, has visited the Studio Museum in Harlem (@studiomuseum) many times, but a recent trip was for the #MuseumInstaSwap: 18 museums in New York paired off and spent time with each other’s collections, taking photos with their own communities in mind and posting them throughout the day on February 2. Organized by the Intrepid Museum (@intrepidmuseum) and inspired by the first swap led by the Wellcome Collection (@wellcomecollection), the initiative offers a fresh perspective on each museum as well as a broader audience for all. At the Studio Museum, JiaJia (@vajiajia) took photos of pieces capturing its spirit, such as Glenn Ligon’s iconic work “Give us a Poem,” a light installation blinking the words “me, we.” “Though the mission of both institutions is dedicated to art seen through a specific lens, these are ultimately museums for people of all backgrounds,” says JiaJia. “We were able to connect all of our voices and audiences online, worldwide, for a single day.”

the true beauty of venice was stumbling across intimate public talks such as this one. after leaving the UAE pavilion, i saw thelma golden of the studio museum harlem in conversation with director steve mcqueen. there were a few audience members sat on a park bench which allowed me to stand back and take everything in.

steve was talking about his short film ‘ashes’ which was being screened just a few metres away. ‘ashes’ revolves around discarded footage shot in grenada by himself and cinematographer robert muller in 2002. mcqueen returned to grenada 10 years later to discover the young protagonist, ashes, was killed in a brutal murder. the footage is then used interspersed with dialogue from those who knew ashes to cast a sombre light on images which outwardly seem almost dreamlike.  

the most important takeaway was to revive those untold stories, and to make sure the past is recorded and remembered through whichever medium necessary, lest our stories be told by those who don’t truly know enough to do them justice. a beautiful 15 minutes of quiet conversation and contemplation before everyone disappeared in search of the next piece of art to digest.


In the fall of 1994, the Whitney Museum presented Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art, a groundbreaking exhibition curated by Thelma Golden. Conceived in dialogue with an extraordinary group of contemporary artists, Black Male investigated the complex aesthetics and politics at work in representations of African-American men in the post-Civil Rights era. On the twentieth anniversary of Black Male, Golden, Director and Chief Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, speaks about the exhibition and its afterlives in conversation with writer Hilton Als, who edited the exhibition’s catalogue, and art historian and critic Huey Copeland.