On Thursday, April 30th, the American Architectural Foundation presented the Honorable Joseph P. Riley Jr., Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, with a special recognition award in celebration of 40 years of national leadership in urban design and historic preservation. The presentation took place at the 26th annual Accent on Architecture Gala  in Washington, D.C. in front of over 400 innovators and decision-makers in design, government, business, and education.
Mayor Riley was first elected in 1975 and is serving an unprecedented tenth term in office. Under his leadership, Charleston has developed nationally acclaimed affordable housing and has experienced remarkable revitalization of its waterfront and historic downtown business district. As a founding father and champion of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the American Architectural Foundation and the United States Conference of Mayors, Mayor Riley has also helped provide critical urban design support to mayors.
AAF President and CEO Ron Bogle, Hon. AIA, said, “In his 40 years as the Mayor of Charleston, Joseph Riley has effectively engaged architecture and design as tools to dramatically transform Charleston and to drive powerful economic, social and cultural changes in his city. The Mayor’s passion for architecture, urban design, and historic preservation have elevated him to a position of extraordinary national leadership. And as founder of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, Mayor Riley has created an institution that will continue to influence the quality of design in American cities. Simply stated, his influence on the design of American cities is unequaled. Mayor Riley has set a high standard for civic leadership in the 21st century, and AAF is honored to pay tribute to our longtime friend and colleague for his many contributions.”
Mayor Riley is also the namesake of the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award for Leadership in Urban Design , presented annually at the Accent on Architecture Gala by AAF and the United States Conference of Mayors. The Riley Award honors mayors whose commitment to excellence in urban design reflects the outstanding example set by the award’s namesake. In January 2015, President Obama announced his intention to appoint Mayor Riley to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation “as the agency’s representative for the nation’s mayors.”
Among other honors, Mayor Riley received the 2009 National Medal of the Arts, the 2004 Olmsted Medal from the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the inaugural J.C. Nichols Prize for visionary Urban Development from the Urban Land Institute in 2000. He received a B.A. from The Citadel and a J.D. from the University of South Carolina School of Law.
The annual Accent on Architecture Gala helps demonstrate design’s potential for improving lives and transforming communities. Proceeds from the Accent on Architecture Gala directly support the work of the American Architectural Foundation.
Photo courtesy of David Hathcox Photography.
Video courtesy of GVI.