Dallas Mayor Michael S. Rawlings is 2017 Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award Recipient

The American Architectural Foundation (AAF) and the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) presented the 2017 the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award for Leadership in Urban Design to the Honorable Michael S. Rawlings, Mayor of Dallas.

The award, created in 2010 to recognize mayors whose commitment to excellence in urban design reflects the outstanding example of the award’s namesake, was conferred at AAF’s 28th annual Accent on Architecture Gala. 

The Gala, which was held Thursday, April 13, 2017 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC, celebrates individuals and organizations whose professional accomplishments combine architecture with civic and community betterment.

AAF President and CEO Ron Bogle said of the announcement, “Mayor Rawlings is the latest in a line of Dallas mayors who have made the city an innovative model for using design as a strategy and tool to transform a community. His leadership has enriched Dallas for generations to come and inspires others to take up the mantle of design in their communities.”

Rawlings was sworn in as the 61st mayor of Dallas in June 2011 and was re-elected to a second four-year term in May 2015. During his time in office, he launched GrowSouth, his signature initiative to spur economic development south of the Trinity River. He’s also fought to improve public education, combat poverty, revitalize Fair Park, develop the Trinity River corridor, elevate the city’s international profile, and turn the city into a top destination for artists all over the world. He’s drawn headlines across the country for his bold campaign against domestic violence, Dallas Men Against Abuse. He has presided over the passage of $600 million in new city bonds to fund streets, flood protection and economic development initiatives and led the City Council through the hiring process for a new city manager and city attorney.

“Great leaders have a vision for their cities. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is one of those great leaders. His vision for his city is one that is known, nationally and internationally, for its focus on innovation and design. He embodies the goals of the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Award for Leadership in Urban Design,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of The United States Conference of Mayors.

Joseph P. Riley Jr. served as Mayor of Charleston, SC, from 1975 to 2016. Under Riley’s leadership, Charleston developed nationally acclaimed affordable housing and experienced remarkable revitalization of its waterfront and historic downtown business district. Mayor Riley was also a founder of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Questions? Contact Vanessa Ofwono at or 202.787.1018.

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Posted in: Accent on Architecture Gala, 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.