News & Politics

The National Building Museum Holds Its 2012 Gala

AOL cofounder Steve Case served as the keynote speaker.

Steve Case speaking at the gala. Photograph by Jeff Martin

The National Building Museum held its 2012 gala on Thursday evening. This venue hosts scads of galas throughout the year, and presidents and royalty have graced the massively spacious, stories-high room–but this was the night for the museum’s loyal supporters. It also handed out the Honor Award to the Urban Land Institute, now in its 75th year.

Now you may be asking, what is the Urban Land Institute? In the invitation the museum lauded the ULI for its “longstanding commitment to multidisciplinary, nonpartisan research that impacts the built environment.” Okay–so you may still be asking, what is the Urban Land Institute? It has 30,000 members, its work is global, and its head office is in Georgetown. And its supporters and patrons certainly had a good time at the black-tie cocktails and dinner party, which featured a keynote speech from AOL cofounder Steve Case.

When Case was invited to speak, he said he could give them about three minutes, according to one of the organizers. But the museum pushed for a little more time, so Case gave them about 12 to 15 minutes. He appeared onstage in a business suit, rather than black tie, and focused principally on his own company, Revolution, and his investments, which include Zipcar, LivingSocial, Miraval Resort, the Maui Land & Pineapple Company, and a peninsula in Costa Rica. But he also tipped to his hat to a tech revolution that AOL helped launch 25 years ago.

Case praised entrepreneurs and the Web. “Now that it is ubiquitous, it is going to transform our lives over the next 25 years,” he said. “Think of your businesses and how it might affect you.” He also encouraged the audience of architects, developers, engineers, contractors, and bankers to “connect to entrepreneurs. When you get into one of their companies early, it can be good for your business. Entrepreneurship is central to what America is and why we are a leading economy.”

Case kept saying he was going to keep his remarks brief, and he did, but before wrapping up he confessed that while “technology is near and dear to my heart” what matters to him is being in touch with the land.

Also making remarks were the chair of the museum’s board of trustees, Michael J. Glosserman, and its president and executive director, Chase W. Rynd.

Past winners of the Honor Award include the Associated General Contractors of America, Clark Construction Group, the General Services Administration, DuPont, the Bechtel Group, Cindy and Jay Pritzker, Lady Bird Johnson, and the Rockefeller Family.