You are here

You are here

  • The restored 900-year-old Altit Fort in Hunza, Pakistan, which was cited by the ULI jury as an example of the Aga Khan's cultural heritage work.
    Naeem Safi
His Highness the Aga Khan receives ULI J.C. Nichols Prize for visionaries in urban development

Los Angeles, USA, 27 October 2011 – His Highness the Aga Khan, Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), today received the 2011 Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development at the ULI's Annual Fall Meeting and Urban Land Expo in Los Angeles. 

The ULI J.C. Nichols Prize recognizes an individual, or a person representing an institution, whose career demonstrates a commitment to the highest standards of responsible development. The $100,000 prize honours the legacy of legendary Kansas City, Missouri, developer Jesse Clyde Nichols (1880-1950), a founding ULI member who is widely regarded as one of America's most influential entrepreneurs in land use during the first half of the 20th century.

"Through the Aga Khan Development Network, progress and improvements to communities have been undertaken in over 30 countries," said James DeFrancia, chair of the 2011 Nichols Prize jury and principal of Lowe Enterprises in Aspen, Colorado. "The Aga Khan has further been an advocate of standards of excellence through his Award for Architecture. His Planning and Building Services agency has also improved design, construction, sanitation and environmental sustainability. The efforts of the Aga Khan have strengthened both communities and society at large."

Luis Monreal, General Manager of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, accepted the prize on behalf of the Aga Khan. "Fully a third of World Heritage sites are in the Muslim world, but they are inhabited by some of the poorest people," Monreal said. "Traditional approaches to urban regeneration – which are often designed to create museums of these neighbourhoods – fail to address social and economic dimensions. They become unproductive burdens on poor municipalities. The central objective of our work, therefore, is to leverage culture in pursuit of poverty alleviation. We do this by bringing a critical mass of programs to bear – the creation of parks and gardens, heritage conservation, water and sanitation, microfinance, open space and infrastructure improvements, and education and health initiatives. We have found that poor people can benefit from these efforts and can become custodians of their heritage."

The Aga Khan was selected for the award on the 75th anniversary of the ULI. "We are recognizing the anniversary as much by looking ahead as by celebrating our past, and this involves expanding ULI's reach to new audiences around the globe," said ULI Chief Executive Officer Patrick Phillips. "The knowledge we gain from the outstanding example set by the Aga Khan's work will greatly help ULI broaden its approach to community building," he said.

The ULI jury cited a number of AKDN projects as exemplars of the Aga Khan’s work, including the restoration of a 900-year-old Altit Fort in Hunza, Pakistan, which received an Award of Distinction at the 2011 UNESCO Asian-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, and the triennial Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

For more information:

Sam Pickens
Aga Khan Development Network
1-3 ave de la paix
1201 Geneve
Tel. +41 22 909 7200


About the Aga Khan Development Network

The agencies of the AKDN are private, international, non-denominational development organisations. They work to improve the welfare and prospects of people in the developing world, particularly in Asia and Africa. Some programmes, such as specific research, education and cultural programmes, span both the developed and developing worlds. While each agency pursues its own mandate, all of them work together within the overarching framework of the Network so that their different pursuits interact and reinforce one another. The AKDN works in 30 countries around the world. It employs approximately 80,000 people, the majority of whom are based in developing countries. The AKDN’s annual budget for non-profit development activities in 2010 was approximately US$ 625 million. The project companies of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) generated revenues of US$ 2.3 billion in 2010 (all surpluses are reinvested in further development activities).

About the Urban Land Institute

The Urban Land Institute ( is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in sustaining and creating thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines. For more information, please see: