‘Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye’ Review

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‘Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye’ Review

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‘Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye’ Review
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

A strong contender to build President Barack Obama’s presidential library, David Adjaye is a rising star.

David Adjaye was already well known when he became the lead architect for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, nearing completion on the National Mall in Washington. In the late 1990s, his career launched with a series of houses for artists in London. He went on to design a new concept for public libraries in London (2004); the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver (2007); a school of management in Moscow (2010) and an affordable housing complex in Harlem (2014). He is currently a strong contender for designing President Barack Obama’s presidential library in Chicago.

By any reckoning, Mr. Adjaye, age 49, is a star architect—up there with Frank Gehry, who is 86; Norman Foster, now 80; and Zaha Hadid, 65. Like Ms. Hadid, the only woman to scale such heights, the Tanzania-born and London-based Mr. Adjaye, who is black, has had to work especially hard at the unfair task of proving he’s got the talent to match the early fanfare. “Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye,” at the Art Institute of Chicago through Jan. 3, 2016, does just that.

The plans and models for the artists’ private houses that catapulted Mr. Adjaye to fame fill the first room and are among more than 50 projects in the exhibition. These early explorations in spatial complexity are still best at revealing the architect’s fresh approach. […]

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