Save Louis Kahn’s IIM Ahmedabad dormitories from demolition

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Mid-December, the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad (IIMA) announced the decision to demolish 14 of the 18 dormitories on their campus designed by Louis Kahn.

The Architectural Review published an Outrage by William JR Curtis last week and Prem Chandavarkar drafted an open letter addressed to IIMA director Errol D’Souza, exposing the situation in great detail and asking for the decision to be reconsidered. Both texts insist on the cohesiveness and integrity of the campus, and the importance to preserve it as a whole.

Kahn’s design is ‘embodied in a spatial order to be experienced, where the union of the academic block, library and dormitories create an intimate network of courtyards that, along with the buildings, capture the spirit of a monastic community of learners where knowledge is collectively held as sacred’ writes Chandavarkar, while Curtis adds that ‘the suggestion that the library, administration and lecture hall can represent “heritage” once the dormitories are demolished quite simply beggars belief’.

Indian laws stipulate that structures can only be qualified as ‘heritage’ if older than 100 years. Yet the successful restoration of IIMA’s library by Somaya & Kalappa (SNK) was recognised with an Award of Distinction in the 2019 UNESCO Asia Pacific Awards. Balkrishna Doshi said the building looks as good as new, and this distinction was seen by SNK and many others as a step in the right direction, raising awareness about the importance to preserve India’s modern heritage.

As articles condemning the planned demolition of IIMA dormitories are gathering momentum, the purpose of this petition is to show their widespread support and formalise a global demand: we want to ask for the decision to be reversed and for Louis Kahn’s dormitories to be saved from the wrecking ball. All 18 dormitories should be preserved and restored to meet the institution’s future needs.

Please spread this message far and wide.