IIM-A Drops Plan to Raze Iconic Student Dorms After Protests

The buildings were designed by renowned US architect Louis Kahn.

Published
India
3 min read
IIM-Ahmedabad.
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The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) has withdrawn an Expression of Interest (EoI) floated by it on 4 December, inviting bids for reconstruction of student dormitories on the main campus, designed by the legendary American architect Louis Kahn, The Indian Express reported.

The decision to withdraw its plans follows strong protests from many quarters, including architects, designers, historians, alumni and Kahn’s children, to the plan in the past two weeks, the report stated.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Board of Governors for the IIM-A said they are "sensitive to the feedback from some stakeholders" who were not in favour of razing the student dorms and building new ones, for which, an Expression of Interest was issued by the institute.

“We are, therefore, withdrawing the Expression of Interest that was put out. We will deliberate on the feedback received, re-evaluate the options, consult the best global conservation structural experts, and chart out a course of action, which the institute will communicate in due course,” the statement read.

However, governing council member and Principal Secretary, Education, Anju Sharma told The Indian Express she had no information on this. “I do not have any communication or information of such a statement issued on behalf of all members of the Board of Governors,” Sharma said.

Kahn’s Children Appealed to IIM-A

In a letter to IIM-A Director Prof Errol D’Souza, on 30 December, Kahn’s children Sue Ann Kahn, Alexandra Tyng and Nathaniel Kahn had appealed that he “reconsider this calamitous and irreversible decision,” saying many people in India and abroad could help the institute find a solution that was beneficial to it and yet preserve “the timeless architecture.”

Kahn’s children had questioned the conclusion that the dormitories were “a lost cause,” given that one of them, D-15, had been successfully restored. They had also asked that a seismic technical assessment report of the building be made public.

They had earlier written to the director, on 22 December, expressing “shock and dismay” at the EoI issued to replace dorms, saying “the buildings in question are the heart of our father’s universally acknowledged masterpiece at IIM-A.”

Demolition ‘An Act of Cultural Vandalism’: Letter

According to The Indian Express report, on Thursday, over 600 architects and academics from 118 universities in over 30 countries released a petition saying demolition of the dorms “will seriously damage the global reputation of IIM-A” and will be “an act of cultural vandalism.”

In a statement released on Friday, IIM-A Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and the Board of Governors had laid out the reasons behind the decision, taken after “deep deliberations”. “The institute recognises that it has a cultural legacy to nurture. At the same time, there can be no compromise on the safety of the residents of the dorms… (hence) a blended approach was considered appropriate.”

The core of the Louis Kahn buildings – the library, the faculty wings, and the class room complex – and the dorms on the periphery of the complex (Dorms 16-18) would be restored, while the other dorms would be reconstructed,” the statement had said, adding that there had been instances of slabs falling from the roof, endangering students.

Speaking to The Indian Express, on 28 December, Prof D’Souza, had said they could consider restoration “if nothing comes out of the proposals submitted for rebuilding of dormitories as per the requirements of preserving the cultural and heritage aesthetics of Kahn, meeting the budget and required usage of space.”

(With inputs from The Indian Express)

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