The Plaza Hotel, October 25, 1996
New York, N.Y.
Those of you who are regular guests at the Hadrian Award luncheon may have noticed that this seems to have become a regular time for me to be guest at these meetings. I should assure you I am not seeking a permanent place on the program. This is the third consecutive Hadrian lunch at which I've been privileged to speak about the work of the World Monuments Fund, and indeed it is certainly worthy of all the attention that any of us could give to that work.
Today we all regret that last year's award recipient, Lord Rothschild, is unable to be with us as was originally planned, but I'm delighted to have the privilege of introducing this year's honoree in his stead.
His Highness The Aga Khan is a man of vision, intellect, and passion. I've had the pleasure of knowing him for almost forty years, ever since he was an undergraduate at Harvard and a roommate of my nephew Jay Rockefeller.
The spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, the Aga Khan is the forty-ninth in a hereditary line extending back to the prophet Muhammad, ( I don't believe there are many of us in this room who could trace, in any direction, anything like that kind of heritage.) From the time he succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, at the tender age of twenty, he has worked through the institutions of the Aga Khan Development Network, improving the lives of people in Islamic societies around the world. The network supports education, medical services, economic development, and cultural programs. These important and much needed services are available to people of all faiths in the communities that they serve.
The Ismailis have a long tradition of self- reliance and voluntary community service, and our guest of honor's distinguished grandfather began a wide-reaching international outreach that is continued today by our honoree.
The film we've just seen, which I think is a wonderful one, emphasizes the critical work that is being undertaken by a number of institutions: the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Harvard-MIT Program for Islamic Architecture, and the Historic Cities Support Program. Through them, the Aga Khan is teaching us a basic lesson very consistent with the work of the World Monument Fund: that art, architecture, and design are an integral and important part of our lives. They express, and at the same time help us to define, who we are and what our culture represents. We salute Prince Karim Aga Khan IV for this intelligent and visionary effort that he has been making and continues to make and take great pride in presenting him with the 1996 Hadrian Award.
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