Toni M. Isidore Smart, one of the survivors of alleged sexual misconduct by architect David Adjaye who was involved in the investigative piece in the Financial Times published last month, has shared a statement about her experience.
On Instagram, Smart writes that Adjaye “abused his ‘Black Privilege’, years of friendship and intellectual exchange” before continuing on to write about her family history and aspects of developing the story that was eventually published.
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Smart was one of the “FT3,” the three women whose experiences were reported in the original news story. Their names were leaked to the Ghanaian government by Adjaye, and this information was “quickly leaked to the Ghanaian media.”
In response to the allegations and news of the leaks, Adjaye provided the following statement:
I absolutely reject any claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or criminal wrongdoing. These allegations are untrue, distressing for me and my family and run counter to everything I stand for.
As I have accepted, sharing correspondence with the Ghana government was unwise, but there was never any intention that it should become public. As soon as I became aware of coverage in the media in Ghana, I immediately instructed lawyers to take urgent steps to ensure that the identities of the women were removed immediately and that the articles were taken down.
After the original story was published, some clients and institutions took steps to distance themselves from Adjaye and/or Adjaye Associates.
Smart says that she and other survivors approached other publications before ultimately working with Josh Spero and Anjli Raval of the Financial Times. She states that “The Architects Journal has claimed that they did not have the resources to investigate our stories when we went to them. We were in fact dismissed with scant courtesy. One can clearly observe the change in their tone of reporting, from weak commentary to more serious reporting.” She also approached a “reputable Trinidad and Tobago Newspaper” but was dismissed by an investigative reporter who later made advances toward her.
Smart states she is not an architect. She is a “Granddaughter, an accountant, a lawyer, a Mother and a Teacher/Lecturer.” On her LinkedIn page, she describes herself as a “a global citizen with experience and the ability to work in Europe and the Caribbean without any immigration documents.”
There is much work to be done in the areas of gender inequality and gender based violence as a whole, within the world of architecture and particularly on the continent of Africa. An alternative must evolve to replace the bottom heavy framework of the architecture industry that raises a few as demigods, as the majority slave away – getting no recognition for the work done while enduring a toxic workplace.
Smart advises that “there needs to be more dialogue about what creates and heals self loathing black men.” She closes by thanking others who have shared their experience, including Ngozi Olojede and Ewa Lenart: “Together we can affect real change, awareness, healing, dialogue, justice and further protection for us and others.” She closes with a tribute to Gene Miles, a political activist in Trinidad and Tobago who testified against government corruption in the 1960s.
Smart also shared her statement via Twitter and LinkedIn.
The statement follows continued conversation about the allegations raised about Adjaye as a workplace issue. Writing in The Nation, Kate Wagner, in a piece titled “Architecture’s Labor Problem,” stated that
Adjaye is an employer. His abuse is workplace abuse—it cannot take place without the infrastructure of the workplace to provide him power and access to victims. While his case is particularly spectacular in its violence, it is of a kind with abuse that happens in architecture firms around the world. All workplace abuse is irrevocably linked with worker precarity. The environment of architectural workers is particularly conducive to exploitation, since it encourages self-abuse: long hours, unpaid internships, unnatural devotion to “the project,” and identification of the self with the workplace.
Her critique links the allegations to the larger structural conditions of working in the field of architecture: “The fact that this exploitation takes on a sexual dimension is no surprise when domination—over the workplace, perhaps over the built environment itself—is the order of the day.” Her solution, foreshadowing Smart’s language, “requires a world in which architectural workers see themselves as workers and where starchitects like Adjaye are no longer seen as gods.”
AN will continue to monitor news and developments in the wake of last month’s allegations.
This article has been updated.