Protests for all quarters including students, designers, architects, historians, alumni and even Kahn’s children forced the institute authorities to drop its plan.
IIM-Ahmedabad had floated an EoI in December 2020, to rebuild dorms
After strong protests, the Indian Institute of management-Ahmedabad has withdrawn an application it floated to invite bids for the re-construction of student dorms first designed by famous American architect Louis Kahn. Protests for all quarters including students, designers, architects, historians, alumni and even Kahn’s children forced the institute authorities to drop its plan.
According to an official statement by the Members of the Board of Governors of IIM-A and the Chairman, as all the ‘stakeholders’ are in disagreement with the approach, being sensitive to the feedback they have decided to withdraw the Express of Interest that they first floated for attracting bids.
Principal Secretary, Education, Anju Sharma talking to IE said that she has no information regarding withdrawing of the EoI or any statement given by the Chairman and the Board of Governors.
Trying to establish the rationale behind redesigning the dorms, the statement said that they have found that the building has undergone structural deterioration and bricks used where what is termed “second class bricks” that have grown brittle in these years. It further said that the earthquake of 2001 caused extensive damage making the buildings increasingly unsafe.
The statement further said that it recognises that the buildings have a cultural legacy but at the same time there can be no compromise on the safety of residents. Hence, the institute will rethink on their decision taking into consideration the feedback they received including that from the global conversation and structural experts. The IIM-A statement said the board would try “to find the best answer to the issues of how to cater to our responsibility to a significant legacy, the safety of those who utilize the buildings as well as being in tune with the needs of the future”
Kahn’s children Sue Ann Kahn, Alexandra Tyng and Nathaniel Kahn in a letter to IIM-A Director Prof Errol D’Souza appealed to reconsider the “calamitous and irreversible decision”. The letter also asked the institute to make the seismic technical report to be made public and questioned the conclusion that the dormitories were a “lost cause”. In another letter, they called the building “heart of our father’s universally acknowledged masterpiece at IIM-A.
The EoI floated in December cited multiple problems with the dorms (D-1 to 18) from dampness in walls to leakages on the roof to structural damages causes by 2001 earthquake. Around 600 academics and architects from 118 universities at 30 countries signed a petition asking the institute to retrieve its orders of the decision of demolition of the dorms citing reasons that it will be “an act of cultural vandalism” and will seriously damage the global reputation of the institute.
Completed in 1974, IIM, Ahmedabad was designed by Louis Kahn, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century and an exponent of exposed-brick architecture, with the help of B.V. Doshi & Anant Raje. The most distinctive features of the building are its square brick structures with circles carved out in the façade and numerous arches. The extensive campus also includes teaching facilities, library and residential buildings.