Currents in Indian Architecture: Contemporary Practice + Discourse

Preston Thomas Memorial Symposium: Currents in Indian Architecture
Preston Thomas Memorial Symposium: Currents in Indian Architecture.
Work by Somaya & Kalappa Consultants.
Work by Somaya & Kalappa Consultants. photo / provided
Work by Abin Design Studio.
Work by Abin Design Studio. photo / provided
Work by Anagram Architects.
Work by Anagram Architects. photo / provided
Work by Kamath Design Studio.
Work by Kamath Design Studio. photo / provided
Work by Sameep Padora & Associates.
Work by Sameep Padora & Associates. photo / provided
Work by Sameep Padora & Associates.
Work by Sameep Padora & Associates. photo / provided
Work by Sanjeev Shankar Architect.
Work by Sanjeev Shankar Architect. photo / provided
Work by Anthill Design.
Work by Anthill Design. photo / provided
Work by SJK Architects.
Work by SJK Architects. photo / provided
Preston Thomas Memorial Symposium: Currents in Indian Architecture. Work by Somaya & Kalappa Consultants. photo / provided Work by Abin Design Studio. photo / provided Work by Anagram Architects. photo / provided Work by Kamath Design Studio. photo / provided Work by Sameep Padora & Associates. photo / provided Work by Sameep Padora & Associates. photo / provided Work by Sanjeev Shankar Architect. photo / provided Work by Anthill Design. photo / provided Work by SJK Architects. photo / provided


Preston Thomas Memorial Lecture Series

"Currents in Indian Architecture: Contemporary Practice + Discourse" brings to Cornell a lineup of esteemed speakers who will elaborate on architectural practice and design discourse in India. Established and emerging practitioners from across the country will present work of various scales while focusing on innovative projects transformed in part by the rich and often conflicting contexts of the Indian subcontinent.

The symposium keynote speakers represent two crucial narratives of contemporary Indian architecture: Kaiwan Mehta, editor of DOMUS India, will address critical curation and architectural discourse in India, while the architect Brinda Somaya will focus her discussion on the evolution of professional practice in the country over the last 70 years since India's independence.

The event will open with a book launch for Women Architects in India: Histories of Practice in Mumbai and Delhi (Routledge, 2016), written by Mary N. Woods, professor of architecture at Cornell AAP.

Following the presentations, a panel discussion with the speakers will be moderated by Sean Anderson (B.Arch./B.S. '96) associate curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA, who practiced as an architect and continues to research throughout South Asia.

An exhibition in the Milstein Hall dome coinciding with the symposium will highlight a series of seminal books and topical publications drawn directly from the collection of the Cornell Fine Arts Library, all related to India's distinct natural beauty, vernacular architecture, and diverse cultural landscape.

The Preston H. Thomas Memorial Lecture Series is funded by a gift from Ruth and Leonard B. Thomas in memory of their son, Preston. The event is envisioned and hosted by the Cornell Department of Architecture; Mary N. Woods, professor of architecture; Mark R. Cruvellier, architecture department chair and Nathaniel and Margaret Owings Professor of Architecture; Luben Dimcheff, Richard Meier Assistant Professor of Architecture; and Apexa Patel (M.Arch. '16).


Thursday, October 13

5:15 p.m.
Book Launch and Reception

Milstein Hall Dome

Friday, October 14

5:15 p.m.
Keynote Lectures

Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

  • Kaiwan Mehta, DOMUS India
  • Brinda Somaya, Somaya and Kalappa Consultants, Mumbai

7:30 p.m.
Exhibition Opening and Reception

Milstein Hall Dome

Saturday, October 15

9 a.m.

Milstein Hall Dome

9:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

  • Introductions by Kaiwan Mehta
  • Sanjeev Shankar, architect, Bengaluru
  • Abin Chaudhuri, Abin Design Studio, Kolkata

  • Shimul Javeri Kadri, SJK Architects, Mumbai

Lunch Break

1–2:30 p.m.
Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

  • Sarosh Anklesaria, Anthill Design, Ahmedabad/NYC

  • Madhav Raman, Anagram Architects, New Delhi


2:45–4:15 p.m.
Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

  • Revathi Kamath and Ayodh Kamath, Kamath Design Studio, New Delhi
  • Sameep Padora, sP+A, Mumbai


4:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion

Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium

  • Moderated by Sean Anderson (B.Arch./B.S. '96), MoMA Department of Architecture and Design, New York City


Keynote Speakers

Kaiwan Mehta

Kaiwan Mehta is a theorist and critic in the fields of visual culture, architecture, and city studies. He recently submitted his doctoral thesis at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bengaluru, under the aegis of Manipal University on "Architectural ornaments and its relationship to the city and metropolitan experience, with a specific focus on Mumbai." He has now published as well as exhibited his research and ideas internationally. He authored Alice in Bhuleshwar: Navigating a Mumbai Neighbourhood (Yoda Press, New Delhi, 2009). Since March 2012 he has been Managing Editor of Domus India (Spenta Multimedia) and writes prolifically on architecture, aesthetics, and cities. Mehta recently cocurated with Rahul Mehrotra and Ranjit Hoskote the national exhibition on architecture — "The State of Architecture: Practices and Processes in India" (UDRI, 2016), at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai. Mehta has recently authored the book The Architecture of I M Kadri (Niyogi, New Delhi, 2016) hoping to challenge in many ways the dogmatic and rehearsed arguments around modern and contemporary architecture in India.

Brinda Somaya

Brinda Somaya is an architect and urban conservationist. Upon completion of her bachelor of architecture from Mumbai University and her master of arts from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, she started her firm Somaya and Kalappa Consultants in 1978 in Mumbai. In 2014, she was awarded the Indian Institute of Architects Baburao Mhatre Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement. Over four decades she has merged architecture, conservation, and social equity in projects ranging from institutional campuses and rehabilitation of an earthquake-torn village to the restoration of an 18th-century cathedral, showing that progress and history need not be at odds. This belief underlines her work that spans large corporate, industrial, and institutional campuses and extends to public spaces, which she has rebuilt and sometimes reinvented as pavements, parks, and plazas. Some of these award-winning campuses include Tata Consultancy Services, Banyan Park, Mumbai; Nalanda International School, Vadodara; and Zensar Technologies, Pune. Her firm has recently won the competition for the restoration and upgrade of the historic Louis Kahn Buildings of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.


Sean Anderson

Sean Anderson (B.Arch./B.Sc. '96) is the associate curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. A Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, he holds degrees in architectural design and history from Cornell University, an M.Arch. from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in art history from UCLA. He has practiced as an architect and taught in Afghanistan, Australia, India, Italy, Morocco, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates, and is the author of two books, the second of which, Modern Architecture and its Representation in Colonial Eritrea was published in 2015 (Routledge).


Sarosh Anklesaria

Sarosh Anklesaria (M.Arch '08) is an architect and educator based in India and the United States. He has worked extensively as a professional architect with offices in Switzerland, the United States, and India. He is currently a senior architectural designer at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, New York City, where his experience has ranged from working on cultural and residential projects. Anklesaria was also the founding partner of the firm Anthill Design, a collaborative architectural practice based in Ahmedabad. He has been an invited critic at the Pratt Institute, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, and Temple Universities among others. His writing and projects have been published in The Architectural Review, Domus, Design Today, Architizer, Curbed, among others. His work with the artist Vasudha Thozhur has been exhibited at the Kunst Museum in Berne. Anklesaria earned a post-professional master of architecture from Cornell University where he won the John Hartell Award and the Telluride Scholarship, and an undergraduate degree in architecture from CEPT University, India.

Abin Chaudhuri

Abin Chaudhuri is an accomplished architect, designer, and entrepreneur with more than 16 years of experience in the field. He graduated from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, in 1998. Having worked as a creative head for Lafarge and later as a director for Adler & Associates, Abin pursued industrial design at Domus Academy, Milan in 2005. Abin Design Studio (ADS) began in October 2005 under his leadership. More recently, he attended the Glenn Murcutt International Master Class of 2014. Over the past decade, ADS has successfully completed several projects in the realm of design including architecture, landscaping, and interior design. Their work encompasses projects of varying scales ranging from institutional and urban projects to private residences and installations. Abin Design Studio has been featured in the prestigious South Asian cross-border list of "The 50 Most Influential Names in Architecture and Design" for 2014, 2015, and 2016. ADS has been placed among the "Top 10 Inno-visionary Architects" in the country by Construction World magazine.

Shimul Javeri Kadri

Shimul Javeri Kadri studied architecture in Mumbai at the Academy of Architecture, and urban planning at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She started SJK Architects in 1990 in Mumbai. The nature of the practice has been to use the sun and the wind to their advantage to create inside out environments that are ecologically sound and naturally beautiful. They have worked across India in the areas of education, hospitality, corporate offices, and cultural buildings, developing unique identities based on the historical legacy of the area as well as the climatic situation. The firm's use of contemporary innovations that draw from Indian traditions has won them the World Architecture Festival Prize in 2012, the Futurarc Green Leadership Award (Singapore), the E+D C & Tucker awards (USA), the ArcVision Award (Italy), Prix Versailles Award (for Architecture and Interiors) in 2016, and several national awards from the Indian Institute of Architects, as well the Indian Institute of Interior Designers.

Revathi Kamath and Ayodh Kamath

Revathi Sekhar Kamath obtained her bachelor's degree in architecture in 1977 and a post graduate degree in urban and regional planning in 1981, both from the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi. In 1981, she started her architectural practice with Vasant Kamath. The firm was called Revathi and Vasant Kamath. Later in 2005 the partnership firm was renamed Kamath Design Studio: Architecture, Planning, and Environment. The studio has handled a wide variety of projects, in diverse social, economic, and geographical contexts. They have more than 400 projects to their credit. Three of her projects have been nominated for the Aga Khan Award including the Akshay Pratishthan School in Delhi, the Community Center at Maheshwar, and the Nalin Tomar House at Hauz Khas, Delhi. She was named Designer of the Year for 1996 by Interiors & Lifestyle India. She has been recognized by WADe India as 'Role Model' Architect for outstanding contribution in designing elegant spaces. She received the Jiva Leadership Award in 2016.

Ayodh Vasant Kamath is a partner at Kamath Design Studio, New Delhi, and a Ph.D. fellow in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. He has been an assistant professor of digital design and fabrication technologies at Lawrence Technological University, Michigan; a visiting faculty member at the University School of Architecture and Planning, Delhi; as well as at the Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Gurgaon. Kamath holds a post-professional degree in design computation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a professional degree in architecture from the Sushant School of Art and Architecture. His teaching, research, and practice explore the intersection of computation, construction, and sustainability through the integration of craft, technology, and material explorations.

Sameep Padora

Sameep Padora is the principal architect and founder of sP+a, a Mumbai-based architecture studio engaged in projects of multiple scales, all framed within a larger interest in history and typological research. Padora completed his undergraduate studies in Mumbai in 1996 followed by post-graduate studies at Cambridge, where he received a master's degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University in 2005. His practice received Wallpaper Magazine's award for the single-family house of the year in 2016. Prior to this sP+a received the World Architecture News (WAN 21 for 21) Award for 21 Emerging International Practices for the 21st century and has been a nominee for the BSI Swiss Architecture Award in 2014. In 2015, he instituted sPare, a research arm of the studio. sPare's maiden project, a documentation and analysis of historic housing types within the city of Mumbai, resulted in a traveling exhibition titled In the Name of Housing and is now available as a book published by the UDRI.

Madhav Raman

Raman is an architect and urbanist. He founded Anagram Architects in 2001 in partnership with Vaibhav Dimri. Anagram Architects is counted today amongst the top Indian design firms, internationally recognized for their commitment towards delivering deeply contextual designs that encourage sustainable lifestyles. Over the years the practice has garnered much critical acclaim including a nomination for the Aga Khan Award in 2010. For three years running, it has been included in AD50, the Architectural Digest Magazine's prestigious list of the 50 most influential South Asian designers for 2014, 2015, and 2016. Its work has been featured at the Architectural Review's World Emerging Architecture Awards 2007; the Cityscape Architectural Awards 2008, 2010, and 2016; the Wienerberger Brick Awards 2010; the SAIE Bologna 2010, 2011, and 2012; and the Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction 2011. Anagram Architects has also featured at the Venice Biennale 2016, the International Architecture Biennale 2010 in Rotterdam, and Biennial of Design (BIO23) 2012 held in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Sanjeev Shankar

Sanjeev Shankar's research-based studio uses his training in architecture, design, and science to merge traditional knowledge with contemporary patterns to develop responsible solutions, which nurture positive socio-economic-ecological impact. Over the last decade, he has inspired communities globally through rigorous field research and experimentation. A recipient of the Chevening fellowship for Science and Technology from Britain and the DAAD fellowship from Germany, his critically acclaimed works have been featured at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London, Centre for Architecture in New York, International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineering in Geneva, and Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. He was shortlisted for the Emerging Architecture award at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London, and has won the outstanding young engineer's award at the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering conference in Geneva. Shankar received his bachelor of architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture New Delhi, a master of design from Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai, and a master of science from Architectural Association London.

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