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Balkrishna Doshi, first Indian architect to win Chicago’s Pritzker Prize, dies at 95

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Balkrishna Doshi, the architect who brought modernism to his native India, first collaborated with Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn before developing his own approach to building in his country, but on Tuesday, India He died at his home in Ahmedabad. Kamala House, named after his wife. he was 95 years old.

The death was confirmed by her granddaughter, Kushnu Hoof.

In 2018, Doshi, known professionally as BV Doshi but mostly simply called Doshi, became the first Indian to win the Pritzker Prize, considered architecture’s highest honor. became an architect. It was the latest in a long series of awards awarded in India and abroad, citing his achievements as both a designer and an educator. However, he founded an architecture school in Ahmedabad and taught there for nearly half a century.

First announced in 1979, the Pritzker Prize is presented annually by the Pritzker family of Chicago to recognize “consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.”

At the time, Blair Comin of the Tribune wrote that he was “little known in America.” Buildings rooted in local sensibilities and circumstances.

Dosi said his real education took place in the Paris studio of the famous Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier. , he went to work there. Doshi spent about three years in Paris, building the High Court and Governor’s Palace, part of Le Corbusier’s gigantic new capital complex in Chandigarh, and his three projects in Ahmedabad (Factory Owners Association). buildings, museums of history and culture, and private residences.

The main lesson he learned from Le Corbusier, in a 2018 interview with the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, is that there was no one right way to build a building. So, “I consider myself lucky that I didn’t finish formal school in architecture,” he said.

He settled in Ahmedabad in 1954 and oversaw the construction of Le Corbusier’s building there. He recalled facing shortages of materials, skilled labor and funding.

However, interest in Le Corbusier’s work brought leading architects and designers such as Kenzo Tange and Buckminster Fuller to Ahmedabad, giving Doshi a wealth of connections abroad.

When Le Corbusier’s projects came to an end, he founded his own company in Ahmedabad in 1956 and called it Vastushilpa, which means environmental design.

In 1958, Doshi spent three weeks teaching at Washington University in St. Louis. This was the first tenure of many universities in North America and Europe. On one of his lecture tours in 1960, he visited the Philadelphia offices of one of the world’s greatest modernist architects, Kahn. The following year, when he was given the opportunity to design the new Indian School of Management in Ahmedabad, he recommended Khan for the job and contracted him as his associate architect. The result was a series of monumental stone buildings. Their façades are cut into shapes derived from local Indian architecture.

Ten years later, Doshi designed the second campus of the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. Its intentionally maze-like structure made visitors feel as if they were both indoors and outdoors at the same time, using courtyards and extensive plantings to mediate the hot weather.

In 1962, Doshi founded a school of architecture at the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology, now known as CEPT University. He also designed a school campus built with locally made bricks. Its layout ensured that different departments overlapped in a way that fostered the fortuitous interaction that Doshi believed was essential to education.

His goal at the time, he said, was to shed the yoke of the established Western school and find the Indian way. “We didn’t want to copy someone else’s approach,” he said in an interview with the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. “We wanted to find our identity.”

His own building was never a paragon of any particular style. Rather, they developed organically as he explored available materials, local customs and climate.

“I think of my buildings as friends and family,” says Doshi. “I have conversations with them. That’s how I make niches and stairs and openings and gardens.” It is designed to

In 1981 he created a collection of rectangular rooms under semicircular vaults, with clear references to the works of Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, Frank Lloyd Wright, Alvar Aalto and Antoni Gaudi. Completed the studio.

Bangalore-based architect Rajagopalan Palamadai, who studied at CEPT in the 1970s, said: Humility born from the desire to integrate architecture with nature and culture. ”

As a young man, Doshi vowed to use his skills to help the poorest. Many of his most significant works were public housing developments designed to create communities. His Aranya Low Cost Housing project in Indore consists of over 6,500 homes, ranging from studio units to spacious homes, all catering to cross-sections of society.

The Pritzker jury noted that Doshi had considered the angle of the sun, the prevailing winds, and the direction of adjacent settlements in arranging such communities. , the creation of public, semi-public and private spaces is a testament to his understanding of how cities work,” said the judges, adding “a deep sense of responsibility and commitment to his country and its people.” Please give me.”

Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi was born on August 26, 1927 in Pune, southwest of Mumbai. He was the fourth child of Visardas Gokuldas Doshi and Radha (Shah) Doshi. His mother died when he was ten months old, and he spent his childhood in the house of his paternal grandfather, who ran a furniture workshop where his father worked.

His grandfather’s house has been home for generations. “Learn humility, learn cooperation, learn compassion,” said Doshi, who lives with dozens of relatives.

The house itself is constantly being added to, telling him that “a building is a growing organism.” The Indian tradition of modifying buildings to meet new needs “causes problems for architects who don’t want to modify their buildings,” he said.

At the age of 11, Doshi was severely injured in his right leg in a fire. His doctors were able to avoid his amputation, but he limped for the rest of his life.

He entered the School of Architecture in Mumbai in 1947, when India declared its independence, and stayed there until 1950. He never enrolled, instead moving to Paris to work with Le Corbusier.

After completing the Le Corbusier project, he remained in Ahmedabad and married Kamala Palik in 1955. She belongs to Jainism and it took many years for Doshi’s Hindu family to accept interfaith marriage.

In addition to her and granddaughter Hoof, he has three daughters, Tejal Pantaki, Radhika Katopalia and Manisha Akkitam. four other grandchildren. and his two great-grandchildren. Hoof runs the Vastusilpa Foundation, which preserves, studies and exhibits Doshi’s work.

Doshi was revered in India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned his passing.

Photographer Iwan Baan, who photographed many of Doshi’s works, called Doshi “the friendliest architect I know.”

“Even the very poor in his public housing project knew him and knew all about him,” he said.

His former student Paramadai recalled when Doshi asked him to describe one of his designs, as if Doshi was blind. “To do that, we had to consider every detail of the building,” says Paramadai. “It’s been a great tool.”

c.2023 New York Times Company. The Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.

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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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