(archrecord.construction.com - 12/07/04)
By James Murdock
The National Building Museum has awarded its Vincent J. Scully Prize to His Highness the Aga Khan. The prize recognizes individuals who raise awareness of the built environment.
"The Aga Khan is the perfect recipient of this award," says David Schwarz, chairman of the prize jury. "Our prize is dedicated to rewarding, recognizing, and publicizing people who have made a significant intellectual contribution to the built environment. It's meant to encourage people to talk about the built environment as a whole, not just about buildings."
The Aga Khan, who is the spiritual leader of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims and a direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad, is a proponent of architecture and urban design throughout the Muslim world. Through his Development Network, the Aga Khan sponsors several educational and philanthropic initiatives including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture; the Historic Cities Support Programme; the ArchNet database of Islamic architecture; and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"He is raising consciousness of the built environment in his community and that's an extremely important thing," Schwarz observed. "When people are aware of architects, they build better buildings. When people are aware of their communities, they build better cities." In recognizing the Aga Khan, Schwarz added, the National Building Museum hopes to increase dialog between the Islamic and Western worlds.
The Vincent J. Scully prize has been awarded five times since it was established in 1999. Previous recipients include Scully himself, Jane Jacobs, and Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.