The sun is about to disappear, hiding itself somewhere deep inside the sea. The city is soon going to get all its residents on the streets indulging themselves in various activities; some sitting under a shade after a long hectic day at work while others enjoying themselves with a plate of pakodis and some enjoying the silence at the riverfront and fuelling themselves up with a hope to face the next day with even greater enthusiasm. That’s the thing about Ahmedabad-it never sleeps. But I love this time of the day when ambience makes love with silence. Ah, it reminds me of my master. Even he loved silence. He, rather, lived silence, peace and calmness.
I am considered as a landmark in the city. Students from all over the country and even from other countries would kill to get a chance to study here-at IIM-Ahmedabad. And I, being a very small unit of it feel privilege to be a part of one of the best management schools of India. If you couldn’t guess let me break it to you-I am a brick. Same as the ones you see everywhere. And today let me have the liberty to give you a brief introduction of the architecture and the architect of IIM-A.
The IIM is spread over 67 acres of lush greenery in Vastrapur and was designed by the famed American architect Louis I. Kahn. He conceived the design as a blend of austerity and majesty. He included spaces for casual interaction while achieving a balance between modernity and tradition that captured the spirit of timeless India. The broad airy corridors, the amphitheatre like classrooms and transition spaces in the complex enhance interaction among the faculty, students and visitors. His design was given shape by a team of architects from the National Institute of Design. This modern residential institute is built entirely in traditional brick construction. Its contemporary design is responsive to local climate and is now a much admired campus. It has inspired generations of students to achieve excellence while retaining humility.
The highlight of the campus is the Louis Kahn Plaza, the sheer magnificence of which has played host to major interactions and celebrations. It is surrounded by the faculty wing, library and classrooms from three sides. This close knit feeling supports each individual’s personal and professional growth, fosters a sense of community within the school and encourages them to form close working relationships with professors and other students. The result is a highly personalised environment that drives students not just to learn, but to think.
Louis Kahn-the man who made IIM-A was born on 5th March 1901. His actual name was Itze-Leib Schmuilowsky. The family migrated to USA in 1906. Kahn was very hard to characterise. He always lived life according to his own rules. Many considered him childish as his spirit never grew up. He was always an innocent little kid inside. He is also known as ‘Brick-Whisperer’ as he used to talk to bricks.
Louis Kahn used to tell his students: if you are ever stuck for inspiration, ask your materials for advice. “You say to a brick, ‘What do you want, brick?’ And brick says to you, ‘I like an arch.’ And you say to brick, ‘Look, I want one, too, but arches are expensive and I can use a concrete lintel.’ And then you say: ‘What do you think of that, brick?’ Brick says: ‘I like an arch.'” He is considered as one of the greatest architects of 20th century. His best works include Esherick House, First Unitarian Church of Rochester, Indian Institute of Management, Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban, Kimbell Art Museum, Phillips Exeter Academy Library, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Trenton Bath House, Wharton Esherick Studio, Yale Center for British Art, Yale University Art Gallery.
Kahn visited India several times. His last days were full of hardships. He went bankrupt. Just before the day he died, he was in Ahmedabad. Before boarding his flight to New York, he visited IIM-A. I still remember, it was 16th March 1974. I could see a sense of calmness in his eyes. They had a deep gaze, as if saying goodbye for the last time. I think he knew it was his time to go. He took one last look at the building, smiled and never came back ever again. After reaching New York the next day, he died due to a heart attack. His body lied in a toilet for four days, unclaimed because the address on his passport was mysteriously obliterated.
Such was the life of my master. He loved bricks the most. I still believe he was a poet and not an architect. He wrote poems with concrete and bricks. That is the way artists live their lives-like a free bird and then one day, they pass away onto the next world leaving their art as a piece of their memory. The last thing he wrote before his death was a poem to his friend Carlo Scarpa. This is what he wrote:
the first sense
the first word
Then the inner realization of ‘Form’
The sense of the wholeness of inseparable elements.
Design consults Nature
to give presence to the elements
A work of art makes manifest the wholeness of the ‘Form’
a symphony of the selected shapes of the elements.
In the elements
the joint inspires ornament, its celebration.
The detail is the adoration of Nature.
He will always be remembered for his marvellous buildings. We are really lucky that such a pure soul left his mark in India too-in the form of IIM-A.
Post by: Falan Vachhrajini