Panel 11: Louis Kahn and the Main Campus - "The Plan Comes from my Feelings of Monastery"

Panel 11: Louis Kahn and the Main Campus - "The Plan Comes from my Feelings of Monastery"

The search for a world-class architect for IIMA which began in the middle of 1962 ended with the selection of Louis I. Kahn, who was introduced to Vikram Sarabhai and Kasturbhai Lalbhai by the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and the Indian architect, Balkrishna V. Doshi. Kahn (1901-1974) was born in what is now Estonia in Europe and emigrated to the US at a very young age. He graduated with a degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. He worked on several projects before joining Yale University in 1947 and the University of Pennsylvania in 1957 where he taught until his death.

Kahn began his work with a visit to India in November 1962. The ground-breaking ceremony was performed on September 9, 1964. The first buildings built were some faculty houses, followed by the dormitories (student hostels) and the main academic complex. The philosophy behind the design is best expressed in Kahn's own words: "The plan comes from my feelings of monastery. The idea of the seminar classroom and its meaning of 'To Learn' extended to the dormitories comes from the Harvard Business School. The unity of the teaching building, dormitories and teachers' houses-each its own nature, yet near each other-was the problem I gave myself. The lake between student and teacher is one way of distance with little dimension. When I found this way, the dormitories tended psychologically to break away from the school, though it has no appreciable distance from it."

While the campus development was on, the institute occupied a bungalow belonging to the Nirmalaben Bakubhai Charity Trust that it rented from June 1962 to 1965. The first batch of students (1964-1965) stayed in rented apartments and classes were held at ATIRA. By 1966 the locus of academic activities had shifted to the 'red-brick' campus. Anant Raje (1929-2009) was closely associated with IIMA for several decades, completing Louis Kahn's designs as well as designing new structures.

Louis Kahn lives in the institute's memory on a daily basis, especially through the 'LKP', the Louis Kahn Plaza where major events including the convocations are held.