Red bricks and brickbats
THE WEEK|January 10, 2021
IIMA’s decision to rebuild its iconic red-brick dormitories has been met with criticism from architects and some alumni
NANDINI OZA

RAGHURAM RAJAN, Mallika Sarabhai, Kiran Karnik, Arvind Subramanian, Ajaypal Singh Banga, Harsha Bhogle, Chetan Bhagat.... These are a few of the names that are part of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad’s 33,000-strong alumni base.

But, that base is now divided over IIMA’s decision to demolish and rebuild at least 14 of the 18 dormitories in the iconic red-brick campus designed by American architect Louis Kahn. Kahn’s children wrote to IIMA director Errol D’Souza, urging him to reconsider the decision and preserve the legacy of their father, who died 46 years ago.

On December 23, D’Souza wrote to the alumni informing them of the circumstances that led to the decision. He explained that the buildings were dilapidated and also shared the advice given by international restoration consultants. What seems to have irked many is D’Souza’s statement that the bricks used by Kahn were not “best in class”; he cited Indian Standards (IS 3102-1971) to say the bricks were second class.

Architect B.V. Doshi, who had convinced Kahn to take on the IIMA project, said that the American architect had spent 14 years to make the campus what it is. The Padma Bhushan awardee said Kahn had agreed after he was told that SwissFrench architect Le Corbusier had designed buildings in Ahmedabad. He added that Kahn only charged travelling expenses to and from the US for the job.

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