Award Includes $100K Prize, Artist Residency, Gala And Four Public Programs At MIT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announce that architect David Adjaye OBE is the recipient of the 2016 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT. The $100K prize awarded at a gala in his honor also includes an artist residency at MIT in spring 2016, during which Adjaye will participate in four public programs. These events will include panels and symposia focused on the future of the museum, library and campus, as well as a keynote lecture about his own body of work.
The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT was established in 1974 by the Council for the Arts at MIT to recognize innovative talents in any arts discipline and offers its recipient a $100,000 cash prize and a campus residency. The selection process reflects MIT’s commitment to risk taking, problem solving, and the idea of connecting creative minds across disciplines. The Award honors Eugene McDermott, cofounder of Texas Instruments and long-time friend and benefactor of MIT.
Upon receiving the news, Mr. Adjaye’s remarked, “In my career I have sought to cross creative platforms, to collaborate with artists and designers from different disciplines and to focus on the creative discourse surrounding the act of making things. I believe it is this dialogue – the cultural intersection – that moves us forward, generates new possibilities and creates greatness. The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT has long stood for exactly this principle, and it for this reason I am both supremely honoured and supremely humbled to be named as this year’s recipient.”
David Adjaye OBE is recognized as a leading architect of his generation. Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, his influences range from contemporary art, music and science to African art forms and the civic life of cities. He founded Adjaye Associates in 2000 and immediately won several prestigious commissions. In Oslo he designed the NOBEL PEACE CENTRE in the shell of a disused railway station (completed in 2005). In London his design for the WHITECHAPEL IDEA STORE pioneered a new approach to the provision of information services (2005). Later projects in London included the STEPHEN LAWRENCE CENTRE, with teaching and community spaces (2007), RIVINGTON PLACE, an exhibition venue and resource centre (2007), and the BERNIE GRANT CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS (2007).
Adjaye Associates now has offices in London, New York, and Accra and is working throughout the world. In the United States, Adjaye is the designer of a new home for the MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART in Denver (2007), two public libraries in Washington DC (2012), the SUGAR HILL low income housing development in Harlem (2014) and the redesigned ETHELBERT COOPER GALLERY OF AFRICAN & AFRICAN AMERICAN ART at Harvard’s HUTCHINS CENTER (2014). Adjaye Associates’ largest completed project to date is the £160 million MOSCOW SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT SKOLKOVO (2010).
Current high profile architectural projects include $360 million THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE on the National Mall in Washington, DC, the Alara concept store in Lagos, the AISHTI FOUNDATION ARTS AND RETAIL CENTRE in Beirut, a new headquarters building for the INTERNATIONAL FINANCE CORPORATION in Dakar, the new home for The Studio Museum in Harlem, the CENTER FOR ART AND CULTURE at Colgate University, and a condominium development for FOUR SEASONS in Washington, DC.
Adjaye recently collaborated with Okwui Enwezor on the design of the 56TH VENICE ART BIENNALE (2015). Making Place: The Architecture of David Adjaye, a comprehensive retrospective exhibition, was held at Haus der Kunst in Munich and is at the Art Institute of Chicago September 19, 2015–January 3, 2016.
The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT celebrates individuals whose artistic trajectory reveals that they will achieve the highest distinction in their fields and continue to produce inspiring work for many years to come. The $100,000 prize represents an investment in the recipient’s future creative work, rather than a prize for a particular project or lifetime of achievement. The official announcement will be made at the Council for the Arts at MIT’s 43rd annual meeting at MIT on October 30, 2015 and Mr. Adjaye will be presented with the award at a gala in his honor on March 29, 2016.
The Council for the Arts at MIT is a volunteer group of alumni and friends who support the arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since its founding in 1972 by MIT President Jerome B. Wiesner, the Council for the Arts at MIT has bestowed the award upon 35 individuals who work in performing, visual, and media arts, as well as authors, art historians, and patrons of the arts. Appointed by the President of MIT to three-year terms, Council members continuously fulfill their mission “to foster the arts at MIT and to act as a catalyst for the development of a broadly based, highly participatory program in the arts.”
Past recipients include:
2013: Olafur Eliasson, visual artist
2011: Robert Lepage, performance and media artist
2010: Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
2009: Bill Viola, visual artist
2006: Suzan Lori Parks, playwright/novelist
2005: Santiago Calatrava, engineer/architect
2004: Libby Larsen, composer
2003: Vinie Burrows, activist/actress/writer
2001: Isaac Julien, filmmaker
2000: CORE Ensemble
1999: Diller + Scofidio, architects
1998: Junot Díaz, author
1997: Toni Dove, video artist
1996: Kenny Leon, theater director
1995: Jeff Wall, photographer
1994: Tan Dun, composer
1993: Thomas Hanrahan & Victoria Meyers, architects
1992: Richard Preston, author
1991: Rebecca Purdum, artist
1990: Agnes Denes, artist
1989: Ida Ely Rubin, art historian
1988: Yulla Lipchitz, photographer
1986: Richard Leacock, filmmaker
1985: Harold E. Edgerton, photographer
1984: I.M. Pei, architect
1983: Albert R. Gurney, Jr., playwright
1982: Roy Lamson, arts administrator
1981: Henry Moore, sculptor
1980: Luis A. Ferre, arts patron
1979: Jerome B. Wiesner, President of MIT, arts patron
1978: Catherine N. Stratton, Founder, Council for the Arts, arts patron
1977: James R. Killian, Jr., President Emeritus, MIT
1976: Paul Tishman, Founder, Council for the Arts, arts patron
1975: Klaus Liepmann, conductor, founder of the music program at MIT
1974: György Kepes, artist, founder of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT (CAVS)
MIT Associate Provost and Ford International Professor of History Philip S. Khoury says, “We are delighted to celebrate the visionary architect David Adjaye at MIT, where we excel in forward thinking design and international cross disciplinary work. It is particularly fitting, since MIT established the first architecture program in the US, and our Cambridge campus, which celebrates its centennial this year, is home to significant buildings by stellar architects, including Fumihiko Maki, Frank Gehry, Stephen Holl, Charles Correa ‘55, I.M. Pei ‘40”, Alvar Aalto and Eero Saarinen.”
Campus Residency and Public Programs
A distinctive feature of the Award is a short residency at MIT, which includes a public presentation of the artist’s work, substantial interaction with students and faculty, and a gala that convenes national and international leaders in the arts. The goal of the residency is to provide the recipient with unparalleled access to the creative energy and cutting-edge research at the Institute and to develop mutually enlightening relationships in the MIT community.
2016 Public Programs by David Adjaye at MIT:
Future of the Library: February 10-11
Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT Keynote Lecture: Tuesday, March 29
Future of the Campus, part of the MIT 2016 centennial celebration: March 30-31
Future of the Museum: April 27-28
Further information about the public programs will be posted at arts.mit.edu/mcdermott
For more information on the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT, please visit