Even before Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A) director Prof Errol D’Souza reached out to its alumni on December 23 amid growing criticism on the institute’s decision to rebuild dormitories on the old campus designed by American architect Louis Kahn, the institute had organised several workshops and open house discussions deliberating the issue with the former student community.
One of the major ones happened in the form of an open house organised in mid 2018. It was also attended by architects, then chairman of IIM-A building committee Pankaj Patel, heritage experts among IIM-A’s senior administration officials.
Confirming this, IIM-A Alumni Ahmedabad Chapter president Jagdeep Kochar said, “There have been nearly a dozen consultations and discussions held between the institute and its alumni. The 2018 workshop that witnessed a good participation was at a time when the restoration of library was on the verge of completion and restoration work of D-15 dorm was to be taken up.”
Prof Errol D’Souza told The Indian Express, “We have invited all alumni for a one-day workshop that also included architects and heritage experts to discuss the issue of dorms. We told them if they are not able to make it for the workshop they can even send in their views and suggestions.”
Further, on these consultations, Kochar the 1983 batch pass out, also batchmate of former director Ashish Nanda said, “The discussions were around what should be done with an overwhelming opinion that the architecture and heritage aesthetics should be maintained but at the same time find solutions of dilapidation and issues faced in restoration.”
Even as the decision of bringing down Kahn’s dorms has met with an outrage pouring in from several quarters, Prof D’Souza while speaking with this paper said, “This is a slow project and no overnight or sudden decision. If people are saying that is not enough, it took three years to make this decision of rebuilding Kahn’s dormitories on the old campus.”
On Tuesday, The Architectural Review, an international magazine started an online petition calling to “save Louis Kahn IIM Ahmedabad dormitories from demolition”.
The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) on December 27 wrote to the IIM-A’s Chairman of Governing Council Kumar Mangalam Birla stating that the “demolition and redesign is definitely not the preferred, or, the only choice”.
ICOMOS, an advisory body to UNESCO on matters related to World Heritage has formed a sub-committee taking cognizance of the EOI issued by IIM-A inviting tenders for ‘Selection of Architect/ Design firm for the comprehensive design of student housing at Main Campus IIM Ahmedabad’ and the IIM-A Director’s letter to all alumni on December 23.
The ICOMOS letter sent by Navin Piplani, president of ICOMOS India, has suggested IIM-A to adopt an exercise to prepare a “Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan” to be undertaken in a scientific manner, by an inter-disciplinary team of experts, to “address issues of future development, upgrading infrastructure as well as conservation of IIM-A’s unique built fabric and intangible values in an integrated manner” and :”consultations with all stakeholders are further recommended for ensuring sustainable outcome of the conservation initiative”.
The EOI floated by the IIM-A on December 4 has sought tenders for building of all 18 dorms while the director’s letter to alumni on December 23 states that four peripheral dorms (D-15-18) would be preserved while 1-14 would be brought down and reconstructed.
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