October 1, 2020
For the first time in its 173-year history, RIBA awards its gold medal to a black architect – and his best, and strangest, work may be yet to come
Sir David Adjaye, the Tanzanian-born British architect of Ghanaian descent, has been announced as recipient of the 2021 royal gold medal, one of the world’s highest accolades for architecture. It marks the first time in the 173-year history of the medal, awarded annually by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), that it has been given to a black architect.
The announcement comes as the institute is examining its own role in Britain’s colonial past and struggling to address the continued lack of black representation in architecture. Only 5.2% of students accepted on to architecture courses in the UK are black, while the number of black registered architects has dropped to just 1% of the total.