Katharine S. Robinson

Katharine Robinson

Five years ago, the American Architectural Foundation created the Joseph P. Riley Award For Leadership in City Design to recognize mayors committed to excellence in urban design. Mayor Riley gave an inspiring keynote address about civic design for which he received an immediate and long-lasting standing ovation.

On April 30, the foundation held its 26th annual Accent on Architecture Gala again in Washington, and it drew 600 people from across the country. The mayor received the foundation’s National Medal for Design Leadership, and once again, I was thrilled to be invited and was honored and humbled to be seated next to Mayor Riley. Throngs of people were congratulating the mayor on his 40 years of national leadership, and I saw firsthand the rock-star status and high esteem in which Joe Riley is held on a national level.

As Mayor Riley walked to the stage with a rousing pre-acceptance standing ovation, I was hardly able to applaud as I saw that Mayor Riley had left his legal pad full of his newly tweaked notes in his chair. All of my angst was for naught when he announced that he decided not to use his notes and would speak from the heart.

Of course, our mayor delivered, without hesitation, one of the most powerful and passionate speeches I have ever heard him make.