The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Our letter in support of the preservation of the Louis Kahn designed IIM in Ahmedabad, India

We were pleased to hear that the immediate threat to dismantle 14 of 18 buildings within the historic Louis Kahn Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad 1968 and 1978  and replacing them with newly constructed dormitories has abated and have sent the below letter to express our support to the global campaign to protect the buildings and give them a viable future. On our 2019 visit to the Ahmedabad campus we were impressed by the sense that this was not only a magnificent example of world class C20 design, but a vibrant and inspirational place of contemporary learning.

Dear Dr D’Souza,

The future of the Louis Kahn Campus at IIM

I am extremely reassured to see the letter of January 1st and the reassurance within it that the Board of Governors of IIM Ahmedabad are “acutely cognizant of the place that the institute and its architecture occupy in the larger community, and of the responsibility that comes with being custodians of the legacy that Louis Kahn bestowed”.     I am delighted that the tender for Expressions of Interest for demolition of the dormitory buildings has been withdrawn, and that IIM has committed to a re-evaluation of options. 

C20 Society is the national statutory amenity society for buildings constructed since 1914 in the UK, and we have been campaigning for the conservation of recent heritage since 1979.   We are very aware of the challenges that this sometimes brings to building owners, both  in terms of practical maintenance and repair issues, and as regards sensitive adaptation of significant buildings to changing patterns of use.    We fully appreciate that the campus as a whole has to have an economically viable future, and that the dormitories must continue to have a beneficial role.   The safety of those who utilize the buildings cannot be compromised and future needs of the institute must be satisfied.   

C20 Society was privileged to visit IIM in November 2019, as part of a tour we organised of outstanding C20 Indian architecture.  This proved extremely popular with our members and supporters, who enjoyed not only seeing magnificent buildings, but in engaging with a range of complex conservation challenges.   IIM was undoubtedly a highlight for all of us, and I am totally in agreement with the excellent description of the campus on your own website where it noted that the “complex instils in the viewer a sense of awe and wonder”.  As this description continues “the closeness of the students’ dormitories to the academic complex-… -helps students take the academic dialogue into non-academic spaces. To quote Louis Kahn, ‘Every time a student walks past a really urgent, expressive piece of architecture that belongs to his college, it can help reassure him that he does have that mind, does have that soul’.”    We were impressed by the sense that this was not only a magnificent example of world class C20 design, but a vibrant and inspirational place of contemporary learning. 

We are firmly convinced that retention of the dormitory blocks is essential to the conservation of the overall integrity of IIM.   We are also certain that this can be achieved in a manner which will maintain their integrity and enable them to carry on being used productively.  

You are to be heartily congratulated on your receipt of the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award for

Cultural Heritage Conservation for the restoration of the Vikram Sarabhai Library in 2019, and it was a great pleasure to be able to see the exemplary results of this pioneering project first hand on our visit.   

Having made this excellent start, we implore you to continue in like manner to ensure the future of IIM, not just for the vast international community of passionate stakeholders, including ourselves, but because the unique and irreplaceable environment clearly enhances the experience of studying and teaching at IIM.  

 Yours sincerely,

Catherine Croft

Director, C20 Society


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