On March 12, the SAH Heritage Conservation Committee wrote the following letter of concern about the proposed demolition of the dormitory blocks of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A).
March 12, 2021
Dr. Errol D’Souza
Director, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad
Re: Proposed Demolition of most of the dormitory blocks of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A)
Dear Dr. D’Souza:
The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) supports our colleagues from ICOMOS India, and joins with an international group of architectural historians, architects, preservationists, and others, to express significant concerns regarding plans by the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A) to demolish 14 of the 18 dormitory blocks, and replace them with newly constructed dormitories.
Built between 1968 and 1978, these dormitories are an integral part of IIM-A’s internationally significant historic core, designed by architect Louis I. Kahn in collaboration with the important Indian architects B.V. Doshi and Anant Raje. These buildings represent a vision for higher learning rooted in student and faculty interaction. The complex utilized local available materials and methods and embraced passive heating and cooling, all of which are recognized today as sustainable building practices. IIM-A is the top-ranked management institute in the country and renowned internationally. We strongly believe that the iconic architecture of the campus, as a whole, is critical to its identity.
We recognize that IIM-A announced in January 2020 that plans to possibly demolish these dormitories were being reconsidered. Recent events, however, suggest that demolition plans have not been abandoned. We respectfully request that IIM-A depart from the planned demolition and seek a course that preserves these buildings, which form an essential component of IIM-A’s historic core.
We also recognize that, as custodians of IIM-A’s internationally celebrated campus, the challenges of preserving these buildings are significant. The design of these dormitories supports IIM-A’s fusion of learning, living, and socializing. Their loss would damage, if not destroy, this critical relationship, which embodies one of the qualities that IIM-A an internationally respected institution. IIM-A is also internationally renowned for its architecture. Kahn’s design for IIM-A is widely considered to be the crowning achievement of his illustrious career, and the totality of the design of IIM-A is critical to an understanding of Kahn’s work. The buildings are no less important to the oeuvre of work of the Indian architects and administrators that worked on this project and played an integral role in India’s post-independence stress on excellence in higher education.
For both of these reasons—the importance of Kahn’s IIM-A dormitories in supporting the mission of IIMA, and the international architectural reputation of these buildings—we strongly urge you to reconsider demolition and pursue a path to the preservation of these important buildings. The IIMA-A campus should be preserved in its entirety, as a living monument to a significant development in Indian higher education. It is a thorough integration of modern architecture into a unique Indian place and time, resulting in an international landmark of education and architecture.
Bryan Clark Green, Ph.D., LEED AP BD+C
Chair, Society of Architectural Historians Heritage Conservation Committee
cc: Mr. Kenneth Breisch, Ph.D.; Mr. Jeffrey Cody, Ph.D.; Mr. Anthony Cohn, AIA; Mr. David Fixler, FAIA; Ms. Priya Jain, AIA; Mr. Theodore H. Prudon, Ph.D., FAIA, Ms. Pauline Saliga; Ms. Deborah Slaton; Ms. Victoria Young, Ph.D.; Members, SAH Heritage Conservation Committee.