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His Highness the Aga Khan Honored by WMF's famous Hadrian Award
His Highness Aga Khan's Speech at the Hadrian Award Presentation
David Rockefeller Speech at Hadrian Award Ceremony
Lord Rothschild's Message to His Highness Aga Khan
Cyrus Vance's Remarks
Michel David-Weil's Address 

by NATION Correspondent

THE NATION (Kenya's Largest Newspaper)
Wednesday, 23 October, 1996

The World Monuments Fund will on Friday - present its prestigious Hadrian Award to His Highness the Aga Khan for his achievements as a champion of architectural conservation efforts throughout the Muslim world.

Given annually since 1988 to an international leader whose support for cultural activities has greatly enhanced the understanding, appreciation and preservation of world art and architecture, the Hadrian Award has previously honoured Lord Rothschild, David Rockefeller, Dominique de Menil, Marella and Giovanni Agnelli, Mrs Vincent Astor, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Paul Mellon and Carlo de Benedetti.

"The Aga Khan has been the undisputed champion of historic preservation in the Muslim world for more than 20 years,'' said Marilyn Perry, Chairman of the World Monuments Fund. ``But, more than that, he has shown us that preservation can be a forward-looking mission. The Aga Khan is an innovator. In his concern with the links between society and the built environment, he has not only benefitted Islamic communities but has changed the nature of architectural discourse throughout the world.''

Born into a family whose history can be traced back for 49 generations, the Aga Khan occupies a position of extraordinary responsibility as leader of the Ismaili Muslims, whose 12 million people live in 25 different countries. In order to help these communities address the challenges of modernisation, the Aga Khan has created constructive channels for dialogue, built upon the foundations of history, tradition and cultural heritage.

The World Monuments Fund will present the 1996 Hadrian Award to the Aga Khan at a luncheon in his honour at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. The luncheon co-chairs are William F. Buckley Jr and Michel David-Weill. The Honorable Cyrus Vance will be the keynote speaker.

Concerned with the deteriorating architectural heritage and inappropriate building practices found in many Muslim societies, and wanting to sensitise those who build in the developing world to the unique heritage of Muslim history and architecture, the Aga Khan founded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1977.

In 1992 he created the Historic Cities Support Programme (HCSP) to promote the conservation and re-use of buildings and public spaces in historic cities in ways that can catalyse social, economic and cultural development. The restoration of the medieval Baltit Fort in the Northern Areas of Pakistan and the creation of Azhar Park out of a rubble dump in the historic centre of Cairo are among the projects undertaken by the HCSP.

Other institutions dedicated to the built environment which he has established include the Aga Khan Programme for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and the research, documentation and publication services of the Architectural Education Programme which is based in Geneva. As Imam of the Ismaili Muslims, the Aga Khan has been involved in the building of religious and cultural centres for the community for instance, in London and in Burnaby, Vancouver that are inspired by Islamic themes but responsive to their Western settings.

His institutional responsibilities in areas as diverse as the remote Northen Areas of Pakistan and the growing urban areas of East Africa have also led him to oversee the design and construction of numerous schools and medical centres to house new institutions in traditional settings. The Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, is often cited as an example of how the traditions of Islamic architecture can be melded with modern building methods and technology to house the most modern of scientific facilities.

In the economic development sector, the Aga Khan has influenced the design of the Serena Group's lodges and hotels in Pakistan, Kenya and Tanzania, which are recognised for their sensitivity to local cultural and artisanal traditions and for their effective responses to environmental concerns. The Aga Khan, the principal shareholder in Nation Printers and Publishers in Nairobi, was closely associated with the commissioning of the company's headquarters, the Nation Centre, which also houses other major national institutions, including the Nairobi Stock Exchange, and is a landmark building.

The Aga Khan's dedication to historic preservation has won him many awards and honours. He received the University of Virginia's 1984 Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Medal in Architecture; the American Institute of Architects 1984 Institute Honour; the 1987 Gold Medal of the Higher Council of Spanish Architects, given by His Majesty King Juan Carlos; and the 1991 Medaille d'argent of the Academie d'Architecture of France. He also has been made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The World Monuments Fund (WMF), based in New York City, is a private, non-profit organisation sponsoring preservation activities internationally. Its goal is to bring together public and private support to assure the survival of the world's most outstanding artistic and architectural treasures. Among its current conservation projects are the Preah Khan temple complex at Angkor in Cambodia; Valtice-Lednice Castle and Park in the Czech Republic; the Tempel Synagogue in Cracow; Ererouk Basilica in Armenia; and the Chateau de Commarque complex in France, whose site encapsulates strata dating back 80,000 years.

In March 1996, the WMF launched the World Monuments Watch, a global effort to identify and preserve endangered cultural and historic sites through the List of 100 Most Endangered Sites. The World Monuments Watch programme has secured $1.5 million in funds for the rescue of over 36 landmarks cited on the 1996 List of Endangered Sites.

Copyright © 1996 Africa Online Inc. and Nation Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.


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