The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Ahmedabad has decided to rebuild some of Louis Kahn’s buildings. Some of the institute’s historic hostel blocks and dormitories will be demolished and rebuilt. However, the situation has raised new concerns. In a letter to IIMA director Prof Errol D’Souza, architectural historian William Curtis expressed his opposition to such a move.
Curtis wrote the letter following the approval of the IIMA Board of Governors (BoG) to rebuild some of the hostel blocks and dormitories. IIMA first considered demolishing and rebuilding Kahn’s famed red-bricked buildings in 2020, he expressed similar concerns.
On November 3, IIM Ahmedabad announced that it would halt restoration and begin construction of new buildings while honouring architect Louis Kahn’s “legacy.”
In a recent letter, Curtis wrote, “IIMA need to think outside the box and realise that they have a chance to ‘rebrand’ their place in relation to a great local history and tradition, rather than a skin-deep Americanisation.”
“There is a lack of transparency in these decisions,” Curtis said referring to the latest structural report by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee, which Prof Errol D’Souza cited as the “major deciding factor” behind the decision. “Apparently a team of engineers from IIT Roorkee prepared a report, but the IIMA administration is refusing to make this public.” He goes on to ask, “Why all this secrecy?”
William J Curtis said the demolition of Kahn’s work when it could have been restored and refurbished is tragic. He advised that the building should be adapted sensitively and intelligently as per the present and future needs of the institution.