ADDRESSEE: GOVERNING COUNCIL THE INSTITUTE INDIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT AHMEDABAD
SUBJECT: OPEN LETTER CONCERNING DORMITORY BUILDINGS BY LOUIS KAHN AT IIMA
BY COPY: PRAHLAD SINGH PATEL ESQ., MINISTRY OF CULTURE, ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA EUROPEAN FOUNDATION OF MANAGEMENT DEVELOPMENT GOVERNANCE SOMAYA & KALAPPA CONSULTANTS PVT.LTD. Dear Respected Members of the IIMA Governing Council, Respected IIMA Leaders and Management,
As a community of architects, architectural historians, and academics from the Czech Republic, we are deeply concerned by the spreading news in the international media that the Board of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad are considering pursuing the demolition of the Louis Kahn designed dormitory blocks. We are in fact worried and very concerned by the news, therefore please accept our letter of plea to save these important edifices from demolition, which is attached in this email.
Louis Isadore Kahn was one of the most important architects of the 20th century and his finest and most mature work lies in Ahmedabad in the form of the masterplan of IIMA and the execution of individual university buildings which he personally oversaw until his death in 1974. The historic and cultural significance of the institute complex is vast and reaches globally beyond the borders of India. In fact, it is a seminal piece of work representing Kahn in university architecture across the world. Many of us made pilgrimage to see both Louis Kahn's and Le Corbusier's work in India at some point of our studies and professional careers, and we consider these edifices to be some of the most iconic works of 20th century modern architecture.
The dormitory blocks are an integral and inseparable part of the Institute complex and are an important element of Kahn's masterplan. The dormitory blocks are instrumental in the architectural symphony of Kahn's mastery of light and material, and as such those in charge of the Institute should aim at protecting the integrity of the whole symphony. The closeness of the dormitories to the academic block with the library and Louis Kahn's Plaza are a key element in understanding Kahn's perception of academic life. The intricate sequence of landscaped courtyards, expressive architecture, and visual poetry of light and red brick materiality are iconic and beautiful. No new building can replace the authenticity of Louis Kahn's architecture.
We urge you, respected Councillors and Institute Representatives, to kindly appreciate the qualities and timeless merits of these buildings in search for non-destructive methods of preservation. Being one of the most important monuments of contemporary architecture in the world we also recognise that the Institute is a working university and therefore needs to deal with practical issues. We are confident these can be addressed with true love and care for the unique works of architecture that have been under your kind governance. At the same time, we are sure that given the significance of the dormitories there are building preservation programmes and conservation experts both in India and internationally who would endeavour to assist in successful preservation and give technical advice to solve the technical issues in a proper and expert manner.
We kindly urge the respected Councillors to drop any plans for demolition of any part of Kahn's original work. The Indian Institute of Management will benefit from retaining these buildings and preserving them under expert advice for future generations and will keep this unique architectural masterpiece within the Institute's embrace.
An act of destruction would be a dangerous precedent and would put other works of the modernist era of 20th century architecture in great danger and uncertainty.
With utmost respect and kindest regards,
Ing. arch. MgA. Pavel Nasadil
Administrator of this open letter on behalf of the below listed architects, architectural historians, writers, and architectural academics:
Ing. arch. MgA. Pavel Nasadil – Architect, former studio leader at ARCHIP, partner at FAM Architekti and Feilden + Mawson Architects UK
Prof. Emil Prikryl – Architect and professor, former head of Academy of Arts School of Architecture, Prague
Prof. PhDr. Rostislav Svacha, CSc. – Architectural historian, publicist and professor of history of arts. Department of Art in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Institute of Art History, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Univ. Prof. Dipl. Ing. Mirko Baum - Architect and former lecturer at Faculty of Architecture of RWTH Aachen University
Prof. Ing. arch. ZF FEng. Zdenek Franek - Architect and former Dean of TUL Faculty of Art and Architecture, Liberec
Ing.arch. MgA. Osamu Okamura – Dean of TUL Faculty of Art and Architecture, Liberec
Ing. arch. MArch. Jan Kristek, Ph.D. - Dean of the Faculty of Architecture Brno University of Technology
Ing.arch. Jan Kasl – Architect, President of Czech Chamber of Architects, Mayor of Prague 1998 - 2002
Ing. arch. Marek Stepan – Architect, lecturer and Vice Dean at Faculty of Architecture, VUT Brno
Prof. Ing. ak. arch. Jan Sepka – Architect and studio leader at Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design in Prague
MgA. Ondrej Cisler, Ph.D. – Architect and studio leader at Faculty of Architecture, Czech Technical University Prague
Mgr. Martin Strakos – Heritage officer and architectural historian, National Heritage Institute, Ostrava
Milos Urban – Czech novelist and writer
Ing. arch. MArch. Adam Gebrian – Architect and architecture presenter, Prague
Ing. arch. Jan Hora – Architect, studio leader at Faculty of Architecture VUT Brno
MgA. Jakub Chuchlik – Architect, former deputy mayor, Jablonec n. Nisou
MgA. Ida Chuchlikova – Architect, Jablonec n. Nisou
Ing. arch. MgA. Marketa Jureckova – Architect, Prague
Ing. arch. MgA. Michal Fiser – Architect, Prague
Dipl. Ing. Tomas Novotny – Architect, studio leader at Faculty of Architecture, Czech Technical University Prague
Prof. Ing. arch. Petr Vorlik, Ph.D. - Architectural historian, Faculty of Architecture CTU Prague, chair of Docomomo Czech, chair of the working group for post-war architecture of Czech ICOMOS
Ing. arch. Ing. Jiří Jandourek – Architect, director of Architecture Office of Liberec KAM L, lecturer at TUL Faculty of Art and Architecture, department of urbanism
Mgr. Lukas Beran, Ph.D. – Architectural historian, Faculty of Architecture, Czech Technical University Prague
Prof. Pavel Kalina, Ph.D. – Architectural historian, Czech Technical University Prague
Ing. arch. Stepan Valouch – Architect, studio leader at Faculty of Architecture, Czech Technical University Prague
MgA. Marcela Steinbachova, PhD. – Architect, director of Kruh NGO and Festival Day of Architecture
PhDr. Richard Biegel, Ph.D. – Head of Institute of Art History, Philosophical Faculty, Charles University, Prague
PhDr. Kateřina Beckova – Historian, curator and writer, Head of Club for the Old Prague
Petr Velicka - Architect, Landscape architect, Vice-president of the Czech Chamber of Architects
Doc. Ing. arch. Jakub Cigler – Architect, Prague
Ing. Ondrej Hofmeister – Engineer, lecturer at ARCHIP Prague