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An educational institute and architectural marvel in Pune

Initially, known as the Poona Engineering Class and Mechanical School, the building, now situated in the midst of Wellesley Road near Shivajinagar, was designed by WS Howard, while the foundation stone was laid on August 5, 1865, by then Governor of Bombay, Sir Bartle Frere.

pune Updated: Aug 18, 2017 15:51 IST
Ananya Barua
Ananya Barua
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,COEP,Hello Pune
Main building of COEP is listed as a Grade 1 heritage structure.(Pratham Gokhale/HT PHOTO)

Stepping into it’s 152nd year of existence, the heritage building of the College of Engineering, Pune continues to bask in the glory of the yonder days post its celebrated restoration.

The Victorian-Gothic style main building of the college with its sixty-foot high tower and picturesque gardens now stands as one of the prominent architectural landmarks of the city, and a centre-piece for the college campus. Recognised by its tall tower and high arched corridors, the edifice has been listed as a Grade I heritage structure, while the rest of the campus has been listed by the corporation as a heritage precinct.

Initially, known as the Poona Engineering Class and Mechanical School, the building, now situated in the midst of Wellesley Road near Shivajinagar, was designed by WS Howard, while the foundation stone was laid on August 5, 1865, by then Governor of Bombay, Sir Bartle Frere. It was one of the earliest Gothic revival buildings in India. The total expenditure for constructing the building at that time, was Rs 1, 81,647, out of which Rs 5,000 had been given by Cowasji Jehangir, a prominent member of Mumbai's Parsi community.

But, for years then, the architectural marvel reeled through the tides of neglect, till 2012, when the college authorities finally decided to restore it to its original grandeur. Despite lack of government funds, the management went ahead with the decision to bear ₹6 crore, with the technical assistance of conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah, to bring it back to its glory.

In keeping its pristine form, the Saracenic-Gothic stone structure borrows architectural influences from local Maratha traditions, with its crenelated parapets and brackets. The building blends Indian and Gothic architectural languages using local grey trap stone with a low-pitched stone as materials restoration.

BG Birajdar, secretary, building and works committee, commenting on the restoration style of the building, said, “Unlike many modern restorations, this one included working mostly with basalt stone, wood and steel. As a result, from the historic wooden Burma teak flooring and wooden rafters, an entirely refurbished ceiling with steel girders, has been restored. The aim was to highlight the original beauty of the basalt stone, as you can now see in the Central Convocation Hall in the building.”

“The plus point is that this building has its ‘Old World’ charm with the latest modern facilities,” Birajdar added.

First Published: Aug 18, 2017 11:12 IST