2016 Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award Presented to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore

On Thursday, May 26th, The American Architectural Foundation (AAF) and the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) presented the 2016  Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award for Leadership in Urban Design to the Honorable Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore at the 27th annual Accent on Architecture Gala in Washington, D.C.

“Great leaders have a vision for their cities. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is one of those great leaders. Her vision for her city is one that is known, nationally and internationally, for its innovation and design. She embodies the goals of the Riley Award for Leadership in Urban Design,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director, The United States Conference of Mayors.

AAF President and CEO Ron Bogle said on the announcement, “Working with city and state leaders, Mayor Rawlings-Blake has launched a multi-year, multi-hundred-million dollar initiative to address blight in Baltimore, declaring that a joint city-state partnership will bring significant resources to demolish thousands of vacant buildings and replace them with green space and a stronger foundation for redevelopment and reinvestment in the city.  This is the bold and visionary leadership that will transform Baltimore and contribute to a brighter future for the city and all of its citizens.”

Mayor Rawlings-Blake was sworn in as Baltimore’s 49th mayor on February 4, 2010. In November 2011, she was elected to her first full term as Mayor, receiving 87% percent of the vote in the mayoral general election. Mayor Rawlings-Blake has focused her administration on growing Baltimore’s population by 10,000 families over the next decade by improving public safety and public education and by strengthening city neighborhoods.

In December 2015, Mayor Rawlings-Blake led a USCM delegation to the U.N. Climate Change Conference, COP 21, in Paris and called attention to how American mayors have been leading the fight against climate change in their cities.

Early in her administration Mayor Rawlings-Blake presented, Change to Grow: A Ten-Year Financial Plan for Baltimore, the City’s first long-range financial plan. The plan includes a bold set of major reforms that amount to the most significant changes to the way the City does business in generations. The plan would help achieve the Mayor’s goal to grow Baltimore by 10,000 families by eliminating a nine-year $750 Million structural budget deficit; allowing new investments in neighborhood infrastructure—including repairing roads and City facilities and rebuilding ten recreation centers; and providing a funding surge for the demolition of more than 4,000 vacant homes; all while reducing homeowner property taxes by more than 20% over the next ten years.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake has also worked to make Baltimore a welcoming city for immigrants. She signed a landmark executive order to protect new Americans from discrimination and increase access to public safety resources and City services for foreign-born city residents. In addition, Mayor Rawlings-Blake fought for a successful state-wide ballot initiative, known as the Dream Act, to provide in-state tuition rates and higher education opportunities for undocumented immigrant students that attended Maryland high schools.

The Honorable Joseph P. Riley Jr. accepted the award on Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s behalf.

About the Award

The Honorable Joseph P. Riley Jr. served as Mayor of Charleston, SC, from 1975 – 2016. Under Mayor Riley’s leadership, Charleston developed nationally acclaimed affordable housing and experienced remarkable revitalization of its waterfront and historic downtown business district.  Mayor Riley was a founding father 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.

Questions? Contact Vanessa Ofwono at or 202.787.1018.

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Posted in: Accent on Architecture Gala, Center for Design & the City, Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award, Print

The American Architectural Foundation has been dedicated to advancing the role of architecture and design in American society since its founding in 1943 by the American Institute of Architects.

In its 75 years in existence the Foundation’s work has taken many forms — from educational programming and exhibitions in its early years to large-scale design initiatives and programs —all of which serve to create a rich legacy.

As the managing partner of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design for twenty years, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the United States Conference of Mayors, the Foundation helped move the needle on design and cities. And, through its other signature programs like Save America’s Treasures in partnership with National Parks Service, the Sustainable Cities Design Academy, and Design for Learning, the Foundation has provided critical design leadership training and technical assistance to hundreds of elected officials, education leaders, business leaders, and other key decision makers in the design process.

In recent years, cities and civic leaders have embraced design and design thinking in a way that could not have been imagined when the Foundation begin its work back in 1943 — and AAF’s role in this transformation is a source of great pride for the Foundation. With this increased interest in the role of design in shaping our cities came a proliferation of new organizations to support and facilitate this cultural shift. These advances in the role of design in American society and changes in the nonprofit design sector, coupled with the departure of the organization’s longest-serving CEO, prompted the Foundation’s Board to embark on an intensive and lengthy process to examine the ongoing role and work of the Foundation.

As the Board of Regents reflected on the positive changes of the cultural value of design, the accomplishments of the Foundation, and how the legacy of the Foundation’s work is being carried out by its former staff in new roles and organizations across the country, they reached the conclusion that the American Architectural Foundation had accomplished what it set out to do. As a result, the Foundation began to complete its remaining programs and wind down its operations in the Summer of 2018 and the organization’s endowments have been distributed to allied organizations. The Foundation’s research and reports will remain available on its website as a resource to the field.

The Foundation’s work would not have been possible without the incredible talents of its many staff over the decades, the generous support of its funders, and the tireless dedication of its civic & design partners across the country. The Board remains deeply proud of the significant contributions Foundation has made in its 75-year history and would like to acknowledge that this would not have been possible without the efforts, dedication, and support from so many of you.