Ghanaian British architect Sir David Adjaye has been accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and promoting a toxic work culture by three former female employees, according to an investigative story that ran in the Financial Times on July 4. Two of the women were employed in Adjaye Associates’ Accra office; the other worked at the London branch. All three are single Black mothers with significant professional networks, who were in their 40s at the time of the alleged events, and who knew 56-year-old Adjaye personally prior to their employment in his global architecture firm.
Since the allegations were published, the architect of such celebrated works as the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC; the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi, and the forthcoming Studio Museum in Harlem, has stepped down from several appointments and noted that he is “seeking professional help” for “enter[ing] into relationships which though entirely consensual, blurred the boundaries between my professional and personal lives,” according to the Financial Times piece. However, it’s been reported that he has denied any criminal wrongdoing and calls the sexual allegations “untrue [and] distressing.” Here’s what we know so far.
The first sexual assault allegedly happened in 2018, then again in 2019
The first sexual assault allegedly took place in 2018, after the two women in Adjaye’s Accra office went to dinner with the architect to discuss the firm’s financial struggles and payroll delays, and then accompanied him to his corporate apartment. According to the FT reporting, Adjaye propositioned the two women, touched them inappropriately, and told one, “You have to do this,” before sexually assaulting her. The next day, he allegedly gave her 4,000 Ghanaian cedi (roughly $880 at that time). (Adjaye and his lawyer deny both that sexual assault occurred and that the cash withdrawal was made for this purpose.)
The FT reporting also details how, in 2019, Adjaye allegedly sexually assaulted the same woman in a bathroom in a Johannesburg airport after she met him for a project launch. She brought the incident up to the firm and attempted to file a police report in Ghana, but eight months later, she was fired from Adjaye Associates with no warning.
The other woman had reportedly had a prior sexual relationship with Adjaye, which had ended before her employment. Four months after the incident in the corporate apartment, she was fired. Both women stayed at the company after the assaults because they needed income to support their families, which they had moved to Accra to join the firm, according to the reports. Adjaye’s lawyer told the FT that the women were dismissed “due to concerns about their conduct and capabilities, which were raised by other employees.”