Sir Gilbert Scott never visited Mumbai. Yet the British architect designed the city's iconic Gothic buildings and envisioned the stately Rajabai Tower and Mumbai University's convocation hall and library sitting in his London office in the 19th century.
"Scott is the only globally recognised architect to produce structures in Mumbai. The other architects, who created great buildings came to India as engineers or as consulting architects to the government," said Sharada Dwivedi, a city-based historian, at the Gilbert Scott and The Gothic Revival seminar, held in the city on Wednesday.
The seminar is part of a month-long celebration to commemorate the 200th birth anniversary of Scott. "Mumbai is honoured to have buildings designed by Scott," said Adi Jehangir, chairman of the Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai, whose great grandfather, Sir Cowasjee Jehangir, funded the convocation hall at the Mumbai University's Fort campus. Incidentally, Sir Jehangir, who was a member of the university's civil engineering faculty and the senate, also funded the fountain in the compound of St Thomas' Cathedral at Kalaghoda.
"Scott exercised a strong influence on the development of the Gothic revival," said Judith Holliday, who studied the '19th century stained glass in Bombay: Its role in the architectural and ideological landscape' for her doctoral thesis.
Conservation architect, Abha Narain Lambah, who spearheaded the restoration work undertaken at the university in 2006, said, "When former president, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam came to inaugurate the hall, he had said - You're building smiles."