His Highness the Aga Khan

His Highness the Aga Khan, founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, is the 49th hereditary Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. In Islam’s ethical tradition, religious leaders not only interpret the faith but also have a responsibility to help improve the quality of life in their community and in the societies amongst which they live. For His Highness the Aga Khan, this has meant a deep engagement with development for over 60 years through the agencies of the AKDN. 


His Highness the Aga Khan established the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and became Chairman of its Steering Committee in 1977. Subsequently, he founded the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard and MIT (1979) and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (1988), which now includes the Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme, Aga Khan Music Programme, Aga Khan Museum and the Education Programme. Other AKDN agencies are also active in the field of the built and natural environment, such as the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, which works to mitigate the threat posed by natural disasters and climate change.


The Aga Khan’s interest and patronage in architecture has been recognized by numerous professional institutions who have bestowed upon him their highest honours and medals, including the American Institute of Architects, USA (1984), the Royal Institute of British Architects (1991), International Union of Architects (2001), the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (2013) and the Architectural League of New York (2017). He has also been honoured for his work in preserving cultural heritage, including the Hadrian Award from the World Monuments Fund (1996), the Vincent Scully Prize from the National Building Museum (2005) and the Urban Land Institute’s J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development (2011). In addition, he has received honorary citizenships from cities as varied as Granada, Samarkand and Timbuktu, as well as many other awards, decorations and honorary degrees.

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His Highness the Aga Khan