Architect picked to replace Adjaye on Liverpool Slavery Museum job

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) has won a fresh competition to transform the International Slavery Museum and the neighbouring Maritime Museum, which both occupy a Grade I-listed former warehouse known as the Hartley Pavilion on Liverpool’s historic waterfront.

Adjaye Associates, which had previously been leading on the high-profile overhaul, was dropped from the scheme in the wake of sexual abuse allegations levelled against practice founder David Adjaye last summer.

The newly appointed FCBS team will work with members of the University of Liverpool School of Architecture – including professor and head of school Ola Uduku and the professor and founding partner of Wolff Architects, Ilze Wolff – to co-design the project.

The £58 million project – which is subject to external funding – will improve exhibition spaces and circulation across the two museums, while also creating a new community space and entrance to the International Slavery Museum inside the neighbouring Grade I-listed Martin Luther King Jr Building, which will be connected to the Hartley Pavilion by a first-floor pedestrian bridge.

Laura Pye, director of National Museums Liverpool, said: ‘We are delighted they [FCBS] are keen to embrace this as a co-production project which we feel will create something truly ground-breaking.

‘There has never been a more important time to address the legacies of the transatlantic slavery and the redevelopment of the International Slavery Museum symbolises our, and our region’s, commitment to confronting the significant role the city played in British imperialism.

‘Alongside the revitalisation of the Maritime Museum and the wider Canning Dock development, which will bring a renewed focus on Liverpool’s rich maritime history and communities, the project will create a holistic exploration of the heritage of the Liverpool waterfront, as well as a world-class visitor experience.’

FCBS partner Kossy Nnachetta will lead the design team. Nnachetta said: ‘[We] are excited and humbled by the invitation to join the NML team and to lead the architectural transformation of these museums.

‘We understand that there is huge responsibility to help create a platform to tell this story, long whispered, yet still awaiting the space to fully express itself; and all the potent, deep-seated emotions it can elicit. We hope to help create something bold and yet beautiful. The result of “many hands” working together with the museums and communities in Liverpool.’

Adjaye Associates originally won the prestigious project in June last year and had been working with Ralph Appelbaum Associates, which had been appointed via a separate tender for the exhibition design and continues to work on the scheme.

According to the contract notice, FCBS will work with NML’s project delivery team, internal and external stakeholders and community groups to ‘co-produce, shape and develop the project by closing out RIBA Stage 3 and guiding the project through RIBA Stages 4-7.’

NML’s decision to retender the role part-way through the design process came two months after Adjaye was accused of sexual misconduct by three women in a series of allegations ranging from harassment to sexual assault.

The allegations, which Adjaye denies, were published by the Financial Times following a year long investigation. In the wake of the FT’s article, various clients cancelled Adjaye Associates-designed projects and the Gold Medal-winner resigned from a number of advisory roles.

Earlier last year – and before the allegations against Adjaye were published – it emerged that Adjaye’s practice and Nigerien architect Mariam Kamara were no longer involved in NML’s proposed public realm transformation of nearby Canning Dock.

The cost of NML’s Slavery Museum project is now believed to have crept up to £58 million from the previous estimate of £57 million, with the latest design contract valued at between £0.8 million and £1.1 million.

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