It is with much pride and gratitude that I have accepted the Chairman’s Award from the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, following Hassan Fathy, Rifat Chaderji, and Sir Geoffrey Bawa. It is an honor to join such a distinguished company and, even more so, to be the first one who is not an architect nor a planner, not even a decision-maker at the level at which I remember the term being used in the deliberations of the Steering Committee many years ago (and a term to which I shall return), but an academic scholar and teacher who has spent his life in universities and research institutes learning and then transmitting to others, in lectures, seminars, and writing whatever I had learned and understood. And it is with these two themes of knowledge and of education that my remarks will deal.
But, first, let me add that my acceptance contains also a sprinkling of somewhat sentimental memories and I want to begin with a few of these, because they have a bearing on the achievements of the past 35 years, on the subject of my talk, and on the expectations we can have for the future.
Some thirty-five years ago, when I was a member of the first Steering Committee gathered to help His Highness the Aga Khan design what was then simply the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and which is now an enormous enterprise operating on five continents, his dream and vision for the growth and development of the environment of Muslims, wherever they live and work, were already fully present in his spirit, but neither, with all due respect, His Highness nor any of the six or seven people gathered to help him out had any clear idea of what to do and how to translate his vision into a reality. The story of how it eventually happened will never be told, because a dozen separate memories are involved, some of the key participants are no longer alive, and, to my recollection, no coherent record was kept of the inventive and creative discussions among a dozen or so imaginative, hard-working, and witty men and one woman, who bear the responsibility of what happened.
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