Day 1 Keynote

Sir David Adjaye

Sir David Adjaye is a leading architect of his generation. For him, architecture is as much about notions of freedom and how we interact as it is about types and materiality. “I hope that my buildings can become part of an infrastructure of increased access, democratized opportunity, and harmonious expression of difference,” says David.

Profile & projects

Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, his broadly ranging influences, ingenious use of materials, and sculptural ability have established him as an architect with an artist’s sensibility and vision. His largest project to date, the $540 million Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African American History and Culture, opened on the National Mall in Washington, DC in fall 2016.

“Architecture is the physical act of social change, and the manifestation of it. I believe in architecture as a social force that actually makes good. And one that edifies communities.”

Named Cultural Event of the Year by the New York Times, the museum is a distinctly emotional experience. More than half of the tiered, upside-down ziggurat structure is below ground—intentionally invoking a crypt-like experience. As visitors make their way up, they progress through history. The experience culminates in a celebration of contemporary African-American arts, entertainment, and culture.

Other prominent completed projects include the Idea Stores in London, a pioneering new approach to library services (2005); the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO (2010); and the Sugar Hill mixed-use social housing scheme in Harlem, New York (2015). He’s currently working on a new home for the Studio Museum in Harlem; 130 William, a residential high-rise in downtown Manhattan; the National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London; and the National Cathedral of Ghana in Accra.


In 2000, he founded Adjaye Associates, which now has offices in London, New York, and Accra and projects in the US, UK, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. In 2017, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and recognized as one of the 100 most influential people of the year by Time magazine—the only architect to make the list.


Read a Q&A With David >


Event details
Our Day 1 keynote event includes a powerful presentation by Sir David Adjaye, and  high-impact, short-form talks by Spotlight Speakers Tamara Eagle Bull, FAIA, Sarah Williams Goldhagen, Matt Kreilich, FAIA, Marc Morial, and Julie Snow, FAIA.

Thursday, June 21, 5:30pm
Simulcast at the Javits Center: Tickets still available!
Radio City Music Hall: SOLD OUT