As reported in The Times of India, the board of governors for the Indian Institute of Management, in Ahmedabad, India has canceled the proposal to demolish Louis Kahn’s buildings on campus and replacing them with new structures, after a worldwide pushback from the international architecture community.
The management’s expression of interest (EOI) to build new dorms instead of the structures erected by Louis Kahn, inviting architects to propose their visions, was withdrawn. The decision made by the board of governors of the institute was the result of an international movement that urged the officials to re-evaluate their plans of demolition. In fact, the administration plans to “bring down at least 14 of 18 dorms which were built between 1968 and 1978" for showing "problems of leakages from the roof, dampness in walls, leakages in toilet walls, slabs, etc.”, was abandoned.
According to historian Robert McCarter, the unique buildings of Kahn created a new campus experience. In fact, he said that “What really makes those buildings work is the air that comes through individual rooms and then goes out into the shared space and then is evacuated from the building, so you get constant ventilation.” He also added in The Architect’s Newspaper that these dormitories were built using the same technology, as the main buildings that just underwent a successful renovation, explaining that there is no reason not to continue with this process.
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After various stakeholders wrote to the management and board with many online petitions, the BOG reconsidered his initial choice. Many petitions and letters made their way, with the mobilization of figures of the international architecture scene such as MoMA’s Glenn Lowry and Martino Stierli. Sarosh Anklesaria, Riyaz Tayyibji, Shubhra Raje, T. David Fitz-Gibbon Professor of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University created a petition as soon as the news broke, collecting 700 signatures including Pritzker laureates Balkrishna Doshi, Rafael Moneo, and Alejandro Aravena, Tatiana Bilbao, Annabelle Selldorf, and Marlon Blackwell.
On January 1st, BoG chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and other members of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad issued a letter explaining that “we are. […] withdrawing the expression of interest that was put out. We will deliberate on the feedback received, reevaluate the options, consult the best global conservation and structural experts, and chart out a course of action, which the institute will communicate in due course”.
Moreover, the letter stated that “Many of you have been writing in ever since the Expression of Interest was put up for the design of the student housing at the main campus of the institute. You have sought to remind us that the dormitories designed by Louis Kahn are a cultural legacy and that these buildings are to be seen as an integral part of the ensemble of buildings that constitute the campus”. Finally, the BoG addressed its initial concerns of safety and stated that it will look into better solutions that protect the legacy of Louis Kahn and ensure the needs of the future.