April 13 1984


Mawlana Hazar Imam was this year awarded the University of Virginia's Memorial Foundation Medal in Architecture.

The presentation ceremony took place on April 13 1984, at the University's campus in Charlottesville. USA. At the same ceremony Mr Griffin Bell, former Attorney General of the United States under the Carter Administration, was presented with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Award in Law.

Mawlana Hazar Imam becomes the 19th recipient of The Thomas Jefferson Architecture Award, first presented in 1966. Previous recipients include leading architects, scholars and critics, among them Miles van der Rohe. I.M. Pei, Phillip Johnson. Sir Nicholas Pevesner. Lewis Mumford. Vincent Scully and Robert Ventura.

For the first time, Thomas Jefferson Medal has been awarded to a patron of architecture. The award citation declared: "The Aga Khan has become, in the best time honoured sense of the term, a patron of architectural culture, the most wide ranging, committed and culturally influential patron of our time. And the activities which bear his imprimatur are a model for the developing world and for the West as well."

In 1977 Mawlana Hazar Imam established The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, which seeks to nurture within the architectural profession and related disciplines a heightened awareness of Islamic culture and to encourage architecture appropriate to the twentieth century. The awards are presented every three years: the first awards were presented in Lahore in 1980, and in 1983 at a ceremony in Istanbul attended by the President of Turkey. Kenan Evren and Mawlana Hazar Imam, 11 projects from nine Muslim countries received the Award.

Reflecting his deep concern for the teaching of Islamic architecture, Mawlana Hazar Imam made an endowment, in 1979, for a joint programme in Islamic architecture at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) directed at promoting research and teaching in Islamic art, architecture and urbanism. The programme emphasises outreach to the Muslim World through visiting professorships, seminars, student and faculty exchanges and special publications.

In a special lecture following the presentation ceremony, Mawlana Hazar Imam emphasised the role which the Universities and schools of architecture can play in developing a greater understanding of, and empathy with, the culture of the Third World.

He said "There are many great cultures in the Third World and it should be an act of integrity for the architects of the future to learn about them and endeavour to empathies with them before impacting them. The architects of today are creating the environment of the 21st century. They should encourage countries to develop within the terms of their own indigenous cultures...If working in Islam, you need to understand Islam; if in Hispanic societies to understand Hispanic traditions; if in the Far East, to be able to come to grips with the social and cultural backgrounds of the people of that area." SOURCE: U.K. ISMAILI .

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