David Adjaye’s Spyscape museum of espionage opens in New York

British architect David Adjaye has completed work on New York’s museum of spying, which invites its first visitors to become undercover agents this weekend.

Spyscape by David Adjaye

Opening today, the interactive Spyscape museum occupies a renovated 60,000-square-foot (5,574-square-metre) building on West 55th Street in Midtown Manhattan, just two blocks away from MoMA.

Adjaye’s firm consulted former members of renowned hacking collectives, station chiefs and directors of intelligence agencies for help with the design, which was revealed late last year.

Spyscape by David Adjaye

Inside, weathering steel drums are installed to house themed exhibition focused on surveillance, hacking, deception and intelligence operations. A mix of smoked glass, bespoke fibre cement, grey acoustic paneling, mirror-polished steel and dim lighting were chosen for surrounding spaces to create a dark and mysterious atmosphere.

Spyscape by David Adjaye

In these areas, Spyscape offers a multi-sensory interactive experience where visitors can pretend to be spies. The adventure starts on arrival, when each is presented with an Identity Band​ that is used to track their journey with electromagnetic fields.

Spyscape by David Adjaye

A video playing in the museum’s central theatre offers a briefing on secret intelligence, before players are assigned one of 11 spy roles – including agent handler, cryptologist, hacker, or intelligence analyst.

Spyscape by David Adjaye

Following activities take place in an interrogation booth, with detectors to “learn the art and science of spotting lies”, and a room with a 360-degree projection of live and pre-recorded CCTV imagery that mimics a surveillance mission. Visitors are also timed as they creep through a room of laser tunnels.

Spyscape by David Adjaye

A cafe, a book shop with over 1,000 rare and first-edition spy books, and a gift shop filled with spy gadgets and smart technology are among the other facilities in the museum. There are also multiple event spaces that can host private parties for more than 600 guests.

Spyscape by David Adjaye

After making his name in the US with the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC, which recently won the Design of the Year 2018 award, Adjaye working on museum designs across the country.

His others include a contemporary art museum in San Antonio, Texas, which broke ground in June 2017, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, which will replace the 50-year-old museum’s existing 125th Street facility.

Adjaye is placed at number 13 in our latest Dezeen Hot List of the most newsworthy forces in world design, and is one of the judges for the inaugural Dezeen Awards this year.

Photography is by Scott Frances.

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