David Adjaye accepts the TIME 100 Impact Award at the Museum of the Future in Dubai on March 28, 2022.
Pause Films / Igor Moskalenko

Architect David Adjaye doesn’t just construct buildings—he also creates learning experiences. As the designer of such high-profile places as the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the Nobel Peace Center in Norway, Adjaye has a knack for bringing attention to social issues and shining a light on history through architectural design.

At the TIME 100 Impact Awards and Gala at Dubai’s Museum of the Future on Monday, Adjaye described architecture as a bridge that brings people together. “Diversity is the clue to our common humanity and our common future,” he said. “I use architecture as a tool to illuminate and bring that knowledge of our common humanities into the future.”

Adjaye was among seven global leaders honored for the way they’ve pushed their industries forward. He was presented with the award by landscape architect Kotchakorn Voraakhom, whose work focuses on solving urban environmental problems.

Later this year, Adjaye will be back in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the opening of the Abrahamic Family House, an interfaith complex in Abu Dhabi featuring a church, mosque, and synagogue, which he designed as a cultural center that will encourage peaceful co-existence and acceptance of the UAE’s three Abrahamic faiths.

“You are shaped by the world around you,” he said while accepting his TIME100 Impact Award. “My sense of thinking about architecture … it’s not just enough to build. But it’s important to imbue the future we make with the past, [and] to imbue the future we make with the memories of our ancestors, the teachings of our ancestors.”

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Write to Nik Popli at nik.popli@time.com.