Last edited 08 Jan 2021



In October 2017, Adjaye Associates - the architectural practice led by David Adjaye - revealed its design for a new spy museum and interactive experience in Midtown Manhattan, New York.

SPYSCAPE will allow visitors to explore the secretive world of espionage through collections of artefacts, dynamic narratives and experiences that will be individually customised.


The entrance will be through a flexible events space that unfolds beneath a dramatic and vaulted light canopy. A range of exhibition spaces will be housed within bespoke pavilions, each focusing on a separate theme of spying. The pavilions will take the form of weathered steel drums with curved panelling, and incorporate a distinctive design and material palette according to their content.

The design for the 60,000 sq. ft space has been influenced by the architectural language of spy organisations, and aims to ‘establish a small town within a building’. Spaces will continually shift the vantage point of visitors, playing with their perceptions, using lighting, screens and between-floor transparency. Partially-obscured interstitial circulation spaces will open up into immersive, fully-interactive multimedia spaces.

To achieve the appropriate aesthetic for the ‘spooks environment’, the design incorporates smoked glass, bespoke fibre cement, dark grey acoustic panelling, and mirror-polished steel.


Lucy Tilley, Associate Director for Adjaye Associates said:

“It has been exciting to work with a client as truly innovative as SPYSCAPE. Thanks to their forward-thinking vision, we have been able to challenge the traditional museum typology with a design that creates a new model of visitor experience which straddles the physical and digital worlds. SPYSCAPE will be an utterly unique cultural destination for New York City.”

SPYSCAPE was developed in collaboration with expert advisors, including former members of renowned hacking collectives and former Station Chiefs and Directors of intelligence agencies. The museum is set to open in December 2017, and will also house a café, temporary exhibition and private event spaces, and a spy book shop.

Content and images courtesy of Adjaye Associates.

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