David Adjaye wins competition for the National Museum of African American History and Culture

A couple of weeks ago, we featured the six finalists for the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Finally, the Smithsonian Institute chose the team lead by Tanzanian-born, London-based architect David Adjaye.

The team that created the winning design also includes the Freelon Group, David Brody Bond and SmithGroup. When accepting the commission, Adjaye said, “Throughout the history of African-American struggle and celebration, there are these moments of praise,” he said. “It’s for us a deeply spiritual and powerful culture.” The museum will cost $500 million and is expected to open on the National Mall in 2015.

Seen at The New York Times. More images after the break.

Cite: Jordana, Sebastian. "David Adjaye wins competition for the National Museum of African American History and Culture" 17 Apr 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 Sep 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=20040>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Even though some may argue with me, it just makes perfect since for this to be done by a black architect. On the other hand, he’s not American. I guess an actual “African-American” missed out on this one.

    that is all.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Fino, Yes Indeed I disagree with you, if he`s black or red or whatever is not a key point for a design competition..I think it was the best proposal, although Foster was more edgy and urban…

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +2


    The project is about african american culture, thus that would infuse an african american to design as a response as…well…..being black. Unless Foster was a historically oppressed minority in some time in his life, I think he would have completely understood the circumstances and the difficulty of this project. Otherwise, I honesty think he avoided the reference all together and just did a “nice” building. The project demands a point of view that is of experience. So yes, it is about oppression, racism, tradity, segregation and………color. It is unlikely that Foster would have had a personal and sensitive connection to any of those things.

    that is all.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Just because Norman Foster + Partners is the name on their entry doesn’t mean he personally designed it. I would also assume there are many black architects working in his office. I’m not saying he should have won or the design team was necessarily black but we also can’t really judge a design based on the color of those working on the project. Race shouldn’t really matter. Especially if it was a blind competition (which I don’t think it was). However, David Adjaye is a great architect, one of my favorites, and I think his proposal is great.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Why are you just talking about Adjaye. The leader of the team, Phil Freelon has one of the best design firms in the country and is an african american, NC State, MIT, Harvard. He just won the AIA’s Jefferson Award this year. Check out his website and you will see this is not a one time flash in the pan. On top of being led by one of this countries best african american designers, this teams project is inspired.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Guys stop with the racial argument, it does not help what color is he. Instead of that look at the “ideas and concept” behind the project and a history of African Americans in this country(USA). So enough of the racial argument……..get past that

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Could it really be that, for some people, being African-American, black and oppressed (not always the same thing) should have been a condition to take part in this competition? C’mon people! that’s naive protectionism at his worst, taken to racial extremes. I really believe -and hope- that the real winner here was the best design, and not the most appropriate ethnic or social background of the designer, because I really liked better the proposal from Adjaye’s team.

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    If you want to see the real reason he won this competition you need to hear him explain it and watch the video they made for it, both amazing…

    also side note this isn’t the final design

Share your thoughts