The Chairman's Award was established to honour accomplishments that fall outside the scope of the Master Jury's mandate, and has in the past been made in recognition of the lifetime achievements of distinguished architects. The Chairman's Award has been presented on four occasions: in 1980, to the Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy; in 1986, to Rifat Chadirji, an Iraqi architect and educator; in 2001, to the Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa; and in 2010 to Oleg Grabar, an historian of Islamic art and architecture.
Born in 1929 in Strasbourg, France, Oleg Grabar received his secondary education in Paris and completed his undergraduate work in history at the University of Paris and at Harvard University. He went on to receive his Ph.D. in Oriental Languages and Literatures and History of Art from Princeton University in 1955. Professor Grabar taught at the University of Michigan before moving to Harvard University where he was a Professor of Fine Arts and then the first Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture. In 1990, he retired from Harvard, where he continues to be an emeritus professor, to become a professor at the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is currently an emeritus professor at the Institute.
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Geoffrey Bawa is Sri Lanka's most prolific and influential architect. His work has had tremendous impact upon architecture throughout Asia and is unanimously acclaimed by connoisseurs of architecture worldwide. Surprisingly, however, his architecture is not well known outside the region, and has not received the international attention it deserves. On only the third occasion since he founded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1977, His Highness the Aga Khan will present the special Chairman's Award during the 2001 Award cycle to Mr. Bawa to honour and celebrate his lifetime achievements in and contribution to the field of architecture.
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The second Chairman's Award was given in 1986 to Rifat Chadirji, Iraqi architect, critic and teacher, for a lifetime dedicated to the search for an appropriate contemporary architectural expression that synthesises elements of the rich Islamic cultural heritage with key principles of the international architecture of the 20th century. Chadirji believes that architecture's future lies in lessons learned from its past. His designs are transformations of regional forms that seek to express, by means of abstraction, the construction technologies in almost universal use today, while affirming the aesthetic values the latter engender.
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The first Chairman's Award was given in 1980 to Hassan Fathy, an Egyptian architect, artist and poet in acknowledgement of his lifelong commitment to architecture in the Muslim world. Early in his career he began to study the pre-industrial building systems of Egypt to understand their aesthetic qualities, to learn what they had to teach about climate control and economical construction techniques and to find ways to put them to contemporary use.
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