Architect David Adjaye OBE is the recipient of the 2016 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT. The $100K cash prize, to be awarded at a gala in his honor, also includes an artist residency at MIT in spring 2016, during which Adjaye will participate in four public programs. These will include panels and symposia focused on the future of the museum, library, and campus, as well as a keynote lecture about his own body of work. Adjaye’s current high-profile architectural projects include the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington and The Studio Museum in Harlem. An extensive retrospective of his work opens at the Art Institute of Chicago on Sept. 19.
“In my career I have sought to cross creative platforms, to collaborate with artists and designers from different disciplines and to focus on the creative discourse surrounding the act of making things,” Adjaye remarked upon receiving the award. “I believe it is this dialogue— the cultural intersection — that moves us forward, generates new possibilities, and creates greatness. The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT has long stood for exactly this principle, and it for this reason I am both supremely honoured and supremely humbled to be named as this year's recipient.”
Celebrating creative achievers
The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT celebrates individuals whose artistic trajectory reveals that they will achieve the highest distinction in their fields and continue to produce inspiring work for many years to come. The $100,000 prize represents an investment in the recipient’s future creative work, rather than a prize for a particular project or lifetime of achievement. The official announcement will be made at the Council for the Arts at MIT’s 43rd annual meeting at MIT on Oct. 30, and Adjaye will be presented with the award at a gala in his honor on March 29, 2016. Past recipients include Olafur Eliasson, Robert Lepage Gustavo Dudamel, Bill Viola, Suzan Lori Parks, and Santiago Calatrava, among others.
“We are delighted to celebrate the visionary architect David Adjaye at MIT, where we excel in forward thinking design and international cross disciplinary work," said MIT Associate Provost Philip S. Khoury, the Ford International Professor of History. “It is particularly fitting, since MIT established the first architecture program in the U.S., and our Cambridge campus, which celebrates its centennial this year, is home to significant buildings by stellar architects, including Fumihiko Maki, Frank Gehry, Stephen Holl, Charles Correa '55, I.M. Pei '40, Alvar Aalto, and Eero Saarinen.”
A distinctive feature of the award is a short residency at MIT, which includes a public presentation of the artist’s work, substantial interaction with students and faculty, and a gala that convenes national and international leaders in the arts. The goal of the residency is to provide the recipient with unparalleled access to the creative energy and cutting-edge research at the Institute and to develop mutually enlightening relationships in the MIT community. Public programs by David Adjaye at MIT will include: "Future of the Library," Feb. 10-11, 2016; Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT Keynote Lecture, March 29, 2016; "Future of the Campus," part of the 2016 centennial celebration of the MIT campus, March 30-31; and "Future of the Museum," April 27-28. Further information about the public programs will be posted on the McDermott Award website.
From Tanzania to MIT
David Adjaye OBE is recognized as a leading architect of his generation. Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, his influences range from contemporary art, music, and science to African art forms and the civic life of cities. He founded Adjaye Associates in 2000 and immediately won several prestigious commissions. In Oslo he designed the Nobel Peace Centre (completed in 2005) in the shell of a disused railway station. In London his design for the Whitechapel Idea Store (2005) pioneered a new approach to the provision of information services. Later projects in London included the Stephen Lawrence Centre (2007), with teaching and community spaces; Rivington Place (2007), an exhibition venue and resource centre; and the Bernie Grant Arts Centre (2007) for performing arts.
Adjaye Associates now has offices in London, New York, and Accra, and is working throughout the world. In the United States, Adjaye is the designer of a new home for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver (2007), two public libraries in Washington (2012), the Sugar Hill low income housing development in Harlem (2014), and the redesigned Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African and African American Art at Harvard University's Hutchins Center (2014). Adjaye Associates’ largest completed project to date is the £160 million Moscow School of Management Skolkovo (2010). Current projects include the $360 million Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, the Alara concept store in Lagos, the Aishti Foundation arts and retail centre in Beirut, a new headquarters building for the International Finance Corporation in Dakar, the new home for The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Center for Art and Culture at Colgate University, and a condominium development for Four Seasons in Washington.
Adjaye recently collaborated with Okwui Enwezor on the design of the 56th Venice Art Biennale (2015). "Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye," a comprehensive retrospective exhibition, was held at Haus der Kunst in Munich and is at the Art Institute of Chicago Sept. 19 through Jan. 3, 2016.
The Council for the Arts at MIT is a volunteer group of alumni and friends who support the arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since its founding in 1972 by MIT President Jerome B. Wiesner, the Council for the Arts at MIT has bestowed the award upon 35 individuals who work in performing, visual, and media arts, as well as authors, art historians, and patrons of the arts. Appointed by the president of MIT to three-year terms, council members continuously fulfill their mission "to foster the arts at MIT and to act as a catalyst for the development of a broadly based, highly participatory program in the arts."
For more information on the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT, please visit arts.mit.edu/mcdermott.