The Architectural League of New York awarded their 2017 President's Medal to the honorable Aga Khan, the League revealed in an announcement today. The President's Medal is the League's highest accolade bestowed to an individual in recognition of a distinct body of work in architecture, urbanism, art, or design. Architectural League President Billie Tsien will present the award during a dinner on May 18 in New York.
During the dinner, remarks celebrating the Aga Khan will be made by humanities scholar Homi K. Bhabha, city planner and previous President's Medalist Amanda M. Burden, and architect Diébédo Francis Kéré, along with Billie Tsien and the League's executive director Rosalie Genevro.1
The Architectural League is recognizing His Highness the Aga Khan on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the Aga Khan Award in Architecture, which celebrates achievements in architecture and urbanism that serve an Islamic population anywhere in the world; spotlights issues of sustainability, quality of life, local craft and building traditions; and helps to preserve and develop public spaces, buildings, and landscapes of great cultural and civic importance. A commitment to pluralism suffuses the work of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, along with other programs of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Aga Khan Development Network, of which it is a part. “Pluralism,” the Aga Khan has said, “results when people decide to value and understand human differences through mutual respect and civic inclusion.” He has written that “In the troubled times in which we live, it is important to remember, and honor, a vision of a pluralistic society. Tolerance, openness and understanding towards other peoples’ cultures, social structures, values and faiths are now essential to the very survival of an interdependent world. Pluralism is no longer simply an asset or a prerequisite for progress and development, it is vital to our existence.”
His Highness the Aga Khan established the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1977 to identify architectural projects that successfully address the needs and aspirations of communities in which Muslims have a significant presence. Winners of the most recent 13th triennial Award Cycle were announced in 2016 and include a community center in rural Bangladesh that interprets local building traditions and materials to respond to an environmentally sensitive site; a public space in Copenhagen promoting integration across lines of ethnicity, religion, and culture; and a bridge in Tehran that connects two parks separated by a highway and has itself become a much treasured urban space.
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture evaluates works of architecture, landscape design, and urbanism using a comprehensive set of criteria that recognizes design’s potential to foster a sense of belonging within culturally pluralistic communities worldwide while simultaneously elevating quality of life and addressing issues of environmental sustainability. The award’s comprehensive and considered deliberation process makes it one of the most respected and coveted awards in architecture.Recent recipients of The Architectural League’s President’s Medal include Michael R. Bloomberg, Henry N. Cobb, Richard Serra, Renzo Piano, Amanda M. Burden, Massimo and Lella Vignelli, Hugh Hardy, Richard Meier, Ada Louise Huxtable, Robert A.M. Stern, Kenneth Frampton, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, and Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.
Recent recipients of The Architectural League’s President’s Medal include Michael R. Bloomberg, Henry N. Cobb, Richard Serra, Renzo Piano, Amanda M. Burden, Massimo and Lella Vignelli, Hugh Hardy, Richard Meier, Ada Louise Huxtable, Robert A.M. Stern, Kenneth Frampton, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, and Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.