Docomomo International became aware by Docomomo India and the historian William J. R. Curtis that the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, one of Louis Kahn’s emblematic works and also known as “heritage campus”, is under high risk to be partly demolished.
Being concerned with the irreversible loss that the demolition of part of the Indian Institute of Management would signify in the context of modern architecture, Docomomo International wants to raise awareness and appeal to the preservation of this iconic building.
“Kahn built two projects on the subcontinent, the Assembly Complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh and the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad (IIMA). Both can be counted among the greatest works of his mature years and both reflect his response to the cultures, climates and traditions of their respective places. But now the administration of the IIMA has announced that the 18 dormitories, integral to Kahn’s overall design of the complex, will be demolished and replaced with buildings by an as-yet unnamed architect, on the same footprint, as if anyone can step into the master’s shoes.
The destruction of Kahn’s scheme is cultural vandalism; it would set a terrible precedent in an India where so many fine buildings are under threat from rabid development. IIMA’s international reputation is at stake. Current laws in India provide national heritage protection only to buildings and sites more than 100 years old. This leaves Le Corbusier’s Millowner’s Association and Kahn’s Institute of Management in Ahmedabad in extremely vulnerable positions. (…) Instead of ruining their masterpiece and their reputation, the leaders of IIMA should be persuaded to complete the restoration of Kahn’s buildings at the highest possible level, and perhaps attain the same World Heritage status as Chandigarh.”
After becoming public this intention of the IIMA administration to demolish part of the dorms, came up “a wake of a huge outcry from local and international organizations, architects, historians and academicians, among others, urging the institute to abandon plans for demolishing the rare structures.” Open letters (1 – link here; 2 – by Prem Chandavarkar link and second letter) and letters of support were sent to the IIMA Administration. Articles were published in national and international journals, namely by William J. R. Curtis: Architectural Record, The Architectural Review, The New York Times, Ahmedabad Mirror.
Also a petition was started. To help raise awareness, please sign it on: change.org.
Now, it appears that this worldwide protest may have the first effects: on 1st January 2021 the board of governors of IIM announced that they are “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 and structural experts, and chart out a course of action, which the institute will communicate in due course” (link). So a first step in the right direction may have been taken, however it is urgent keeping raise attention and appeal to the preservation of Louis Kahn’s IIM Ahmedabad!
To read the previous heritage in danger publication, click here.
Also in 2018, Docomomo International published a Journal dedicated to Louis Kahn – DJ58, including an article about IIM (link).