Grant Oliphant’s Keynote at Build Pittsburgh 2016

American Institute of Architects (AIA) Pittsburgh’s Annual Conference David L. Lawrence Convention Center – April 21, 2016 Keynote Speech: Just Design By Grant Oliphant, President, The Heinz EndowmentsCgp8dguU4AABNUb

Good morning. I am deeply honored to be here with you this morning. I confess I was a bit surprised when Ann Swager asked me to come and speak with you. I mean, you all do know I’m not an architect, right? Actually I refrained from drawing her attention to my glaring lack of qualifications for fear that you all would recognize your error and rescind the invitation. I’m hoping it’s too late for that now. The truth is I didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity, because I am here today to ask you for your help and for your leadership. At the Endowments we view the design community as some of our most valuable allies. Design is a subversive act, and we believe that when done well it has the power to remake our sense of the possible and to shape a new collective reality.

Over the decades our foundation has been co-conspirators with many of you in this room in doing precisely that—in transforming a red light district into a thriving urban cultural center, in reimagining our riverfronts, in reawakening our downtown and neighborhoods, in enlivening ourpublic spaces, in embracing public art, in advocating for design excellence, and in making Pittsburgh that most unlikely of things given our history: a center of green design and green
It’s worth noting that every one of these goals and collaborations was regarded in its day asperfectly ridiculous, dismissed by the self-appointed guardians of pragmatism as naïve,unaffordable, misguided or just plain stupid. Yet where would Pittsburgh be today–which of those “best of” lists we love to boast about would we still be on–without those unlikely
ambitions and the gloriously irrational women and men who fought for them?

Continue to read full speech here…

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