Doyen of Indian architecture BV Doshi dies at 95

Published on Jan 25, 2023 12:01 AM IST

Renowned Indian architect, planner, and Pritzker laureate Balkrishna V Doshi passed away on Tuesday at his residence in Ahmedabad, his family announced

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By, Ahmedabad

Renowned Indian architect, planner, and Pritzker laureate Balkrishna V Doshi passed away on Tuesday at his residence in Ahmedabad, his family announced. His demise brought a deluge of tributes from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fellow architects celebrating his life that spanned 95 years. Doshi is the only Indian to have been awarded both the Royal Gold Medal and the Pritzker Architecture Prize in their lifetime, and in 2020, was also awarded the Padma Bhushan.

“Loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. No one loved life more than him, ‘Anand Karo’ - Celebrate Life as he would always say. He had so many people that he loved dearly and who loved him back. He will leave for his onward journey from our residence Kamala House,” his family said in a statement.

Condoling his demise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Dr BV Doshi Ji was a brilliant architect and a remarkable institution builder. The coming generations will get glimpses of his greatness by admiring his rich work across India. His passing away is saddening.”

Born in 1927 in Pune to a family of furniture makers, Doshi studied at the JJ School of Architecture Bombay, before working for four years with Le Corbusier as Senior Designer (1951-54) in Paris and four more years in India. He worked with Louis Kahn as an associate during the building of IIM-Ahmedabad, and they continued to collaborate after.

Across his storeyed career, Doshi has a plethora of iconic projects to his name, including the Hussain-Doshi Gufa (now called Ahmedabad-ni-Gufa), IIM-Bangalore, the CEPT University campus (Ahmedabad), the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi and the Physical Research Laboratory (Ahmedabad).

The last major project helmed by Doshi was the Smriti Van Memorial and Museum at Bhuj, built across 470 acres on the outskirts of the town to celebrate the spirit of resilience shown by its people after the devastating earthquake in 2001. Prime Minister Modi, who inaugurated the memorial and museum project in August 2022, likened the Smriti Van to those commemorating victims of the twin tower attacks in New York, or the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan.

“Prof Doshi’s body of work reflects his lifelong quest for modern architecture rooted in the Indian context. He has shaped the direction of architecture through both his practice and teaching. His buildings combine modernism with vernacular, informed by a deep appreciation of the traditions of India’s architecture, climate, local culture and craft. The School of Architecture building at CEPT University is one of the finest examples of not just his own approach to architecture, but also of the great tradition of modern architecture in India. CEPT University, and I personally, deeply mourn his loss,” said Dr Bimal Patel, president of CEPT and the architect behind the Central Vista Redevelopment project.

Always forthright, Doshi had also spoken out against plans to effect change to some buildings on the IIM Ahmedabad campus. In a letter to the board of governors of the institute in January 2021, Doshi said the structural safety issues raised by the IIM-A relating to the dormitory buildings on its old campus were unfounded and that the institute should allow the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to step in and take over the conservation if the management found it beyond its capabilities.

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