Charles Correa design opens at MIT

Last friday marked a very important and momentuous day for Indian architecture. Veteran Indian architect and urban planner Charles Correa designed yet another marvel, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, opened at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Charles Correa is one of the greatest Indian architects alive today, and his body of work encompassing four decades is outstanding. He has built all over the world, and his work has become the de rigeur since Independance, 57 years ago. He along with Kanvinde, Doshi, Raj Rewal, Stein, and Raje, helped form the vocabulary for a post colonial Indian architecture.

This is not his first building in the US. That honour goes to his design for the Permanent Mission of India to the U.N. here in New York City. In a city where there are more skyscrapers than arguably anywhere else in the world, this building stands out on its own. Having seen it first hand, I would say that it is a great design, that brings the essence of India, but fits in perfectly with its surroundings in New York. Built on a very difficult site, it does justice to its surroundings.

Correa has over the years pushed the boundary of Indian architecture beyond the ordinary. His juxtaposition of colour, material and context into a very engaging composition and the clarity of spatial movement are a class act.

Secunderabad-born and Mumbai-based Correa, 75, who studied architecture at the MIT and the University of Michigan, is known for a wide-range of his architectural work in India and on urbanisation and low-cost shelter in the Third World, which he articulated in his 1985 publication, “The New Landscape”.

His architectural designs have been internationally acclaimed and he has received many awards, including Padma Shri in 1972, the Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal in 1984 and the International Union of Architects Gold Medal in 1990….[link]

Correa’s work covers a wide range, from the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at the Sabarmati Ashram, to the Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, and the State Assembly for Madhya Pradesh — as well as townships and housings projects in Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and other cities in India. The McGovern Center at MIT is one of a series of new buildings that have opened at MIT in the past few years. Along with the Stata Center by Gehry and the student housing by Steven Holl, this building becomes an important part of MIT’s commitment to quality architecture.

MIT’s new 411,000-square-ft brain and cognitive sciences complex, to be dedicated on December 2, will be the largest neuroscience centre in the world.

The breathtaking architectural design for the entire state-of-the-art research facility, which will house the laboratories of 16 global leaders in neuroscience, is a collaborative effort of Boston-based Goody, Clancy and Associates, and the Charles Correa Associates of Mumbai

The centre, which would house the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, was created by the largest philanthropic gift in MIT history — $350 million over 20 years — courtesy Patrick J McGovern and his wife, Lore Harp McGovern. Patrick McGovern is the founder of International Data Group, the publisher of Bio-IT World, and an MIT alumnus…..[link]

In a global world where continents are coming closer and closer in the virtual and real sense, this instance of an architect from desiging at one of the world’s premier institutions is truly a proud moment for Indians and for Indian architecture.

Sadly Correa today is not the most famous architect in India today. That dubious distinction would go to one Hafeez Contractor. However it is a case in point that you do not need to be the best to be famous.

More on architecture in India over here.

More reviews and comments on this building when I get a chance to see it first hand.

Some thumbnails of the McGovern Center at MIT.