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Symposium explores contemporary Indian architectural practice

India building site
Mary N. Woods/Provided
Women loaders at a construction site in Hyderabad, India were part of professor Mary Woods' research for her new book "Women Architects in India," being launched at the Preston Thomas Symposium.

The Department of Architecture’s annual Preston Thomas Memorial Lecture Series symposium will address “Currents in Indian Architecture: Contemporary Practice + Discourse,” Oct. 13-15 in Milstein Hall. Events are free and open to the public.

Established and emerging practitioners will present work with a focus on innovative projects, transformed in part by rich and often conflicting contexts on the Indian subcontinent.

The symposium opens Oct. 13 at 5:15 p.m. in Milstein Dome with a book launch and reception for “Women Architects in India: Histories of Practice in Mumbai and Delhi,” by professor of architecture Mary N. Woods.

Two keynote speakers will represent key narratives of contemporary Indian architecture Oct. 14 at 5:30 p.m. in Milstein Auditorium. Kaiwan Mehta, a theorist and critic of visual culture, architecture and city studies, will address critical curation and architectural discourse in India; and architect and urban conservationist Brinda Somaya will discuss the evolution of professional practice in India over the 70 years since the country gained independence.

Mehta is managing editor of Domus India and author of “The Architecture of I.M. Kadri” and “Alice in Bhuleshwar: Navigating a Mumbai Neighbourhood.” Somaya established her practice in 1978 and received the Indian Institute of Architects’ Baburao Mhatre Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement in 2014.

A concurrent exhibition in Milstein Dome, with an opening reception Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m., will highlight a series of seminal books and topical publications drawn from the Cornell Fine Arts Library, all related to India’s distinct natural beauty, vernacular architecture and diverse cultural landscape.

Presenters Oct. 15 include two practitioners listed in Architectural Digest’s prestigious AD50 – a list of the 50 most influential South Asian designers – in 2014, 2015 and 2016: Abin Chaudhuri of Abin Design Studio and Madhav Raman of Anagram Architects, a firm known for designs that encourage sustainable lifestyles.

Also presenting: Architect and educator Sarosh Anklesaria, M.Arch ’08, senior architectural designer at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, New York City; Shimul Javeri Kadri of SJK Architects, Mumbai, 2012 World Architecture Festival Prize winner for innovative work drawing from Indian traditions; Revathi Sekhar Kamath and Ayodh Vasant Kamath (Interiors & Lifestyle India’s 1996Designer of the Year) of Kamath Design Studio, New Delhi, with more than 400 projects to their credit; Sameep Padora, whose sP+a studio in Mumbai received Wallpaper magazine’s 2016 award for single-family house of the year; and designer and researcher Sanjeev Shankar, whose critically acclaimed works nurture positive socioeconomic and ecological impact.

Following the presentations, a panel discussion at 4:30 p.m. will be moderated by Sean Anderson, B.Arch., B.S. ’96, associate curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, who conducts research throughout South Asia.

The Preston H. Thomas Memorial Lecture Series was established in 1975 by Ruth and Leonard B. Thomas in memory of their son, Preston, an architecture student.

Media Contact

Rebecca Valli