In this episode, Architect Bijoy Ramachandran speaks to Prof. Rabindra Vasavada, a celebrated practitioner, conservationist, teacher and historian about his time at the IIM Ahmedabad site office (where he started his career) from 1969 to 1972 working with Louis Kahn the American architect, who was commissioned to design the campus, and Prof. Anant Raje, the local architect in-charge. This time working on the School (the Library, Faculty blocks and classrooms) had a profound impact on him.
From Prof. Vasavada’s description of Kahn, three things are immediately striking about the way Kahn and his site office operated. First, the work seems to have been fundamentally informed by the feedback provided by the clients. Kahn seems to have been a careful and observant collaborator. This flies in the face of the romantic ideas of the architect as the sole author of the sublime idea and instead tells us of a much more open and shared way in which architecture could be produced. Second, the environment in the office too was collaborative, each of you seem to have had both a sense of profound ownership and responsibility towards the work. Third, we often separate the notion of the big idea from what Kenneth Frampton calls the adoration of the joint, the details, the techtonics and the precise, accurate representation of structure and construction. Prof. Vasavada’s description of Kahn’s process make it clear that there was no such distinction. The profound, big idea and this careful attention to detail and precision went hand in hand. Each informed the other.