Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Foreign Office Minister; and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, were also present at the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Centre, situated at the heart of London’s thriving Knowledge Quarter, located in the revitalised area of King’s Cross.
In his speech, Mawlana Hazar Imam called the Centre “a beautiful new architectural accomplishment” and spoke of his expectations for the institutions that will call the Centre home, including the Institute of Ismaili Studies, the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, and the Aga Khan Foundation (UK).
“These institutions - through their teaching and research, their rich library and archival resources, as well as their tours and public programmes - will enrich the lives of people from the entire world,” Hazar Imam said. “For those of us who have seen these institutions grow from infancy, it will be a special joy to see them pursue their mission from this beautiful setting.”
The building was designed by Maki and Associates - the third that Mawlana Hazar Imam has commissioned, following the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Prince of Wales commented on the importance of understanding the intellectual and cultural contributions that Islamic civilisations have made to the world.
His Royal Highness noted that Mawlana Hazar Imam’s vision had enabled the Aga Khan Development Network to grow into an organisation of international importance, addressing development needs across the globe, and bridging the boundaries of race and religion with his message of hope, compassion, and pluralism.
The Prince of Wales also commented on the values of the Ismaili community, saying that in holding dear the values of humility, honour, magnanimity, and hospitality, the Ismaili community took its inspiration from their Imam, and from his extraordinary "Greatness of Soul." He continued by saying that in similarly inspiring this Centre, the Imam had set it on a path to serve the world with great distinction, just as he had done throughout his remarkable life.
Referring to the collection of open and outdoor spaces within the Aga Khan Centre and nearby Victoria Hall, Mawlana Hazar Imam said, “What we will see as we walk along are not only beautiful buildings - but also a unique series of gardens, courtyards and terraces - eight of them, in all, across our two buildings.”
Addressing the audience, Hazar Imam continued “Taken together, this winding ribbon of special spaces is an eloquent tribute to the rich diversity of the Muslim world. What they will make possible for those who walk these pathways, the people who will live and work here and public visitors as well, is a wonderful journey of refreshment and discovery.”