Campus cool

The old block of IIM-A is a building short on gimmicks,not on style,says architect Gautam Bhatia

Written by Debesh Banerjee | Published: March 8, 2009 4:56 pm

The old block of IIM-A is a building short on gimmicks,not on style,says architect Gautam Bhatia
The old block of Indian Institute of Management (IIM),Ahmedabad is,by far,the most captivating building design I have ever come across. It is a great edifice as it does not take its building requirements seriously and does not conform to any set parameters. It was the first IIM to be designed by renowned American architect,Louis Kahn,who also designed the Dhaka Parliament House.

It was built in the 1960s and I first saw the structure in 1981 when I returned to India after completing my architectural studies at the University of Pennsylvania. I was working with a senior architect on a two-year project of constructing the management development centre in the institution. Ironically,I had studied at the same university where Kahn had taught years ago. I had even attended one of his lectures.

The building design is governed by the presence of open spaces,big courtyards,endless verandas and amphitheatres. One can even sit under a neem tree to study. Kahn’s design philosophy was simple. He believed that a school is made up of a man who did not know he was a teacher talking to a person whom he did not think was a student. So,the atmosphere of the institution is very relaxed and the building does not make its visual presence felt easily.

One gets drawn to the structure slowly as it is devoid of gimmicks like steel columns,aluminuim sheets or stylish glassware,all of which make a sudden impact. While looking at this building,one slowly gets drawn to its beauty and after some time the design begins to creep into your bloodstream. This is a classic design according to me. I like the way the landscape around the building combines with its indoor environment. At a sub-conscious level,I have been influenced by its design philosophy when designing recreational spaces or spas.

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