Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Don't Call David Adjaye A Starchitect

American architecture has been rather devoid of photogenic Young Turks in recent years — the architect with the most buzz at the moment is Philip Johnson, yet again — but in the U.K., the designated star is David Adjaye. The Ghanaian, Royal College of Art–trained architect, 40, built his reputation designing tough, opaque houses in rapidly gentrifying London neighborhoods: masklike gray façades on the outside, lots of open space within, for cool artistic types like Ewan McGregor, Jake Chapman, Sue Webster and Tim Noble. He’s since moved up in the world. In June, he was awarded an Order of the British Empire by the queen for services to architecture, following several public works — like his Idea Stores, which have shaken up the notion of the library and his Nobel Peace Center in Oslo. And now he’s coming to America. The exhibit “Making Public Buildings” opens this week at the Studio Museum in Harlem; his New York office opens this year; and his Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver opens this fall. Adjaye spoke to Alexandra Lange about public vs. private, Africa and New York and what it’s like when a client attacks you in the press.