January 13, 2009

Extension to Jaipur House, The National Gallery of Modern Art

12 August 2008

As one drives down Zakir Hussain Marg towards the C hexagon, just before reaching the giant round-about, one notices some new buildings in red and buff sandstone on the right, hitherto hidden behind construction barricades—or were they always there? At first glance, these new NGMA extension buildings seem to naturally ‘belong’ there, as though they are what one might expect to find in that location. They respect the alignment of the road, sitting parallely to the direction of movement, and have a quiet dignity about them unlike the preceding building on the same road. The facades of the new NGMA are impeccably proportioned, with red and buff stone surfaces that are relieved by rhythmic columns which form deep vertical recesses. They remind one of the deep verandahs of the many colonial buildings one comes across in and around India Gate. The only hint that they are designed and built in the twenty first century are the thin vertical metallic strips that glint at regular intervals all the way down between vertical panels of stone.

Just before turning into the roundabout, on the right, one catches a glimpse of the old NGMA building (Jaipur House) of which one had just seen the new extension blocks. As one does almost a complete clockwise circumambulation of the hexagon, just beyond the National Stadium, the dome of Jaipur House becomes visible. In order to understand and appreciate the design of the new extension, a brief description of the old NGMA and its site context is necessary. Firstly, it is important to understand that the old NGMA was neither designed as a museum nor as a gallery. Lutyens had earmarked, as part of the master plan of the central vista, a ring of smaller palace buildings surrounding the Chhatri hexagon, each representing an Indian princely state under the imperial British rule, symbolically saluting the statue of King George the V under the Chhatri. Edwin Lutyens’s concept was to put the ruler in the Viceroy house on Raisina Hill and gather the princes at the foot—as subjects in a durbar.

Amongst the various palaces grouped around the India Gate Hexagon, Lutyens had personally designed the Hyderabad house, located diametrically opposite the Jaipur House. After independence, and the subsequent amalgamation of the many feudal states into the new republic, these ‘state palaces’ were retrofitted to accommodate various government institutions. Jaipur House was converted in to the National Gallery of Modern Art in the1960’s. Designed by Charles and Francis Blomfield, and built in 1938 for Maharaja Mansingh II, Jaipur House is rather austere, with an imposing central wing topped by a dome. It uses the architectural language of imperial Delhi—predominantly European neo-classical fused with a few Art-Deco and ‘Indian’ elements.

Owing to the peculiar wedge-shape of plots around the India Gate Hexagon, the Jaipur House along with a number of other state palaces is butterfly shaped in plan. Two symmetrical ‘wings’ radiate outwards and forwards from the central body, enclosing a forecourt, like two arms reaching out to welcome visitors. Two similar wings radiate towards the rear, facing the landscaped grounds. The façade has two levels of small, vertical, slit-like windows spaced few and far apart on plain featureless walls, revealing that the inside volume consists of two floors. Following the classical idiom, the ground floor is expressed visually as a ‘heavy’ base, built with alternating horizontal layers of red and buff stone blocks, while the upper floor is visually lighter using only buff stone. A continuous sun-shade or ‘chajja’ in red stone casts a deep shadow and caps the whole façade. The overall impression is of solid mass, grand horizontal sweeps, and of monumentality. Ornamentation is used sparingly-- some carved ornamental ‘Rajput’ columns that frame a few arched openings, a horizontal band of interlocking pattern in red and buff stone reminiscent of Mughal monuments.

The central entrance steps lead one through a lobby, into the main volume under the dome. Two symmetrical, grand, curved stairs wrap around this space and lead up to the first floor. This triple height space is the central orienting device that leads to various corridors that have rooms on either side which house the galleries. Inside, a confusing maze of corridors and rooms leaves one disoriented. This is further compounded by the complex geometry of the building, as the main corridors are not at right angles, but join at obtuse angles. Because of the few external windows, the lighting is entirely artificial and as one moves through the galleries, there are few views offered of the lovely landscaped gardens outside. The building draws very firm and strict boundaries between the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’; almost like a fortress. However, the monumental mass of the edifice is broken down to a more friendly, human scale by the use of low screen walls of stone—a device that gradually ‘steps down’ the imposing building and connects it to the landscape as it were. These screen walls also helped to enclose landscaped gardens in the rear.

An architectural competition for the extension to NGMA was announced in 1984 and culminated in 1985. The winning entry was selected by the jury as much for its pragmatic simplicity as for its sensitive response to the existing building and its historic setting. The design proposal arranges the extension in three large cuboid blocks in the rear, while preserving many fully grown existing trees. These three blocks are set parallel to the rear outer boundary of the plot, leaving the minimum setbacks from the peripheral internal roads, thus maximizing the garden space between the old and the new blocks. This garden with its many shady trees is developed as a pedestrian-friendly recreation- cum- outdoor display space.

The new blocks are kept visually separated from each other to reduce their overall mass, but are interconnected completely at basement level and at upper levels through thin ‘bridges’. The linear courts between the blocks are designed as lively public streets, with cafe spill-outs, and for outdoor exhibitions and performances.

However, the real strength of the design is how it negotiates and resolves the difference in alignments between the old and the new blocks, and the awkward geometry of the intervening open space between them. In order to do this, the design takes its cue from an existing architectural device from the old building—the screen wall.

While the three new cuboid blocks sit parallel to the rear roads and at right angles to each other, an angular screen wall of double storied columns detaches itself from the central block and faces the rear of the existing building. This deft design move achieves three objectives in one shot.
In the first place the freestanding façade squarely faces the symmetrical rear of the old building--like holding up a mirror to it. Secondly it creates a perfectly intelligible, square shaped open space between the old and the new building. In the process, the space between the screen wall and the central block forms a dramatic, triangular, open-to-sky sculpture forecourt to the new extension block and announces its main entrance. The third side of this dynamic triangular enclosure is formed by a large existing Ficus tree. The screen wall is thus the first greeting in the complex dialogue set up between the old and the new buildings; between building and landscape, between building and art.

The entrance triangle leads up to an inviting foyer visible through transparent glass walls that draw one in. To the left is a completely glassed-in museum souvenir shop reflected in a shallow pool. The first impression of the interior is one of surprising lightness and transparency, as the eye can sweep across a vast volume of a sky-lit atrium, right up to the opposite wall. The corner of the entrance lobby extends into the atrium, like a giant prow of a ship, inviting one to come to the edge and look up and down the central void.

Series of carefully oriented skylights on the high ceiling scoop diffused light into the interior. These skylights and the deeply recessed vertical strip windows on the façade ensure that there is enough natural light inside the galleries even on the cloudiest of days while cutting out direct sunlight in the display area which may be harmful to delicate works of art. The artificial lights hung from ceilings provide controlled lighting on art-works and are programmed to dim or brighten automatically depending on light conditions outside, saving precious energy.

The four storey space is designed for universal access and has lifts and ramps connecting all the levels. The location of the ramp is most unusual as it wraps around the two external sides of the square block. As one walks up, one can see the outside landscape through the windows, as well as enjoy the changing perspectives of the interior space through the glass railings.

The galleries are not designed as ‘rooms’, but as free floors which could be sub-divided with free-standing, movable display panels. The sweeping internal floor slabs are supported on columns, but not all floor planes meet the walls. Large segments stop short of the walls and seem to float effortlessly-- cantilevered off internal columns, thus forming interesting double and sometimes triple-height spaces along the periphery. It is this complex interplay of internal volumes that brings variety, serendipity, transparency and lightness to the interior, quite in contrast to the monumental looking exterior.

Although all three blocks are cuboid, it is interesting to see how the same external form adapts itself to the demands of diverse internal shapes and uses within it. However, there are unexpected angular projections and recesses from the cuboids which intrigue and surprise. These occasional departures from the square might seem arbitrary, but are based on very precise manipulations of geometry that are derived and extended from the existing building.

It is as though invisible lines of force extended outwards from the old building and have carved laser-like the new blocks; adding here, subtracting there. The massive basement that interconnects all three blocks, and the discreet freight lifts ensure the smooth and secure movement of artworks and equipment from any corner to any other corner of the complex without disturbing the public.

As one comes out into the open spaces that separate the blocks, one is struck by the intricate detailing of the external façade when viewed close up. The external mass is broken down into a series of receding planes of stone and aggregate plaster. At places the stone is carefully ‘peeled back’ to reveal grooves which are clad in aluminum. These metallic strips also reveal that the building is not made of solid stone blocks (as they were in the last century), and that the stone is only a thin layer of cladding—a veneer, that is independent of the structure.

There is some poetry in the way the different stones are clad, the way various materials come together at the corners; often to the point of fussiness. Unlike in classical buildings, it is these small, meticulous construction details that add richness to the new NGMA rather than applied ornamentation. The attention to detail extends to the design of the outdoor spaces, paving, soft landscape, out-door lighting and the location and design of the services like electrical, air conditioning, firefighting, etc.

Most services have been hidden from view, but are easily accessible for maintenance and repairs. The cooling towers however are visible from the Zakir Hussain Marg, though they were originally planned away from prominent public spaces, engineering decisions taken by the executing agency have brought them to the forefront. It must be frustrating indeed for the architects to not only see all their design effort taking 24 years to fruition (longer than it took to build the Taj!) and then being marred by less than perfect execution.

Of the two other blocks on either side, one houses more galleries, and the other has public oriented functions such as a 200 seater auditorium, cafeteria, library etc. These functions are located invitingly close to the roundabout to draw in the public, thus making the museum a part and parcel of the recreational urban experience around India Gate. The design attempts to transform the public image of the museum from that of an exclusive, hermetically sealed tomb, to that of an inclusive, vibrant, cultural hub of the city. Unfortunately, this intention is partially diluted by the boundary wall fencing - a necessary evil that tends to isolate public buildings from the public.

How does one finally sum up the architecture of the new NGMA? The architecture is nuanced and can be appreciated at three distinct levels. First of all it adopts a sensible, practical, common sense approach to design. The three new blocks are like giant ‘warehouses’ where art can be stored, preserved, restored, moved, displayed, and above all viewed with efficiency, comfort, and ease. Although the overall large interior spaces are pre-determined, they lend themselves to a great variety and flexibility of usage in terms of customized arrangements for different exhibitions. However the ‘warehouses’ are anything but nondescript either from the outside or from the inside.

Secondly, the architecture is an experience to delight in. The experiential variety of spaces, the meticulous sense of proportions right from the whole to the part, the thoughtfully expressed construction details, the integration of the indoors with the outdoors-- all ensure that while the architecture could be dwelt on and savoured for itself, it recedes to the background and does not dominate or overwhelm what is on display.

The third layer of design is the most subtle of the three. It has to do with the very identity of the buildings. The architecture manages to carve a very distinct contemporary identity for itself, while graciously taking cues from the existing building and engaging in a creative dialogue with it. Although it is meant to house modern art of India, it ambitiously goes beyond its immediate function of shelter, and provokes questions on what is ‘Indian’, what is ‘Modernity’, and what a ‘Museum’ is today—questions which it then answers with some imagination and conviction.

The architects prove that it is no longer necessary to copy classical decoration when building within the context of what was once Imperial Delhi, nor is it essential to resort to mindless glass facades to proclaim one’s modernity. In fact, upon careful scrutiny, the architecture of the New Wing NGMA does not seem to draw its inspiration from any stylistic ‘isms’. Instead the New Wing seems to be closer to the design principles manifest in the finely crafted buildings located alongside Lodi Gardens, a stone’s throw away from Jaipur House. This group of buildings designed by Joseph Allen Stein, blend delightfully and harmoniously with their immediate surroundings. They have all stood the test of time, have aged gracefully, and represent a timeless humane modernity.

January 12, 2009

Building the New Wing NGMA

Building The New Wing

Snehanshu Mukherjee, 13 January 2009

The National Gallery of Modern Art is on the threshold of a new beginning. Twenty three years after conception, the New Wing for the NGMA has now been finally built. The new building has remained, in all appearances, remarkably close to the original prize winning entry selected from the national architectural competition held in 1984. The design was the outcome of a collaboration between a trio of then young architects A. R. Ramanathan, Anurag Gupta and Snehanshu Mukherjee. The competition was organised to build an extension to the Jaipur House, primarily to increase much needed display space and add supporting ancillary facilities. On the 3.17 hectare site of Jaipur House the building programme envisaged adding a new wing which was six times the size of the older palace building.

The Jaipur House, as the site and home to the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), presented a unique opportunity to address certain issues in contemporary architecture that have remained relevant till date. The challenge posed was to design a distinctive New Wing for the NGMA that would share the site comfortably with the original 1930s Art-Deco palace of the Maharaja of Jaipur, designed by the British architect Charles Blomfield.

The Jaipur House along with the other palaces of the princely states, as planned by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, formed an important part of the grand Central Vista’s complex of Imperial New Delhi. These older buildings anchored the Central Vista’s complex in architectural styles that ranged from Neo-Classical to Art-Deco. Despite the strong presence of the older buildings, the various sites along the Rajpath have been built upon post 1947 mostly according to the architectural doctrines of European Modernism with no concessions accorded to the original buildings.

To build a substantial complex of public architecture on the Jaipur House plot, the designers decided to base the ground rules for the new design on the original building’s siting and strong architectural character. Therefore, the creative mandate was twofold. The first was to design the new extension in a manner that would convey its inclusive programme as a contemporary public building. The second was to design a building that would harmonise with the site and its original inhabitant, the Jaipur House itself, while fulfilling the expanded needs of its current use.

The statements that are made through the medium of public architecture are of enormous consequence, as they reflect the prevalent concerns and aspirations of our times. The vocabulary therefore, that one chooses to put forth through the language of architecture is of paramount importance. “Looking good’ in itself is not enough. It becomes the designer’s responsibility to ensure that the resulting architecture does not convey an inappropriate order of priorities. Piecemeal allusions to elements of style and motifs would have been out of context in the design of the New Wing. The extension to Jaipur House has instead been developed with a new vocabulary, based on re-interpretation and innovation, as well as a respect for our architectural heritage and contextual significance.

Appearance of the New

The design for the New Wing, since the competition stage, has been governed by the positioning of the original Jaipur House on the site and shape of the plot. The New Wing has its genesis in the design process that needed to establish a geometrical order and scale to the site. The three proposed blocks are placed orthogonally to the site edges to derive maximum possible use of space on this precious site, and to keep as substantial a distance as possible between the extension and the original building. However, this arrangement on site causes a negation of the axis generated by the symmetrical plan form of Jaipur House and its relation to the Central Hexagon. To align the New Wing with the siting of the older building, a free standing colonnade has been built as a screen parallel to the rear facade of Jaipur House. In this manner, a garden court is formed between the old and the new building. The colonnaded screen and the garden court in combination make a positive, unequivocal statement of entrance to the proposed extension. More importantly, it restores and reinforces the original axis, clearly establishing in the process the greater architectural hierarchy of the older Jaipur House. The two flanks of unspanned columns state the tenuous link between the old and the new and define the central space which is exclusively for the pedestrian. It is a space to be perceived from within and not a vista to be admired from a distance. The decision to scale down this space to a more “human” level from the larger vistas of the Hexagon is crucial to the architectural theme of the New Wing.

The Central Court between the old and new building is echoed behind the colonnaded screen as a “twisted” square in plan, half within the first block of the New Wing housing the entrance lobby to the Permanent Gallery spaces. The Central Court is reached by a visitor from either side through smaller courts adjacent to the older Jaipur House. These courts, designed as a part of the landscaping, though aligned to the older building also “transform” to align with the Central Court.

The trees present on site have been incorporated into the landscape design of the complex in a way that screens the newer buildings, presenting the facades as fragments against the relatively fuller appearance of the older building. New trees have been planted in a manner to generate a variety of open courtyards, especially in spaces between the older Jaipur House and the New Wing. The other important function of the various courts and courtyards is to provide an appropriate setting to display outdoor art objects.

The appearance of the New Wing is derived from that of the existing Jaipur House. The external walls of the New Wing are clad in sandstone of a colour similar to that of the existing building. The pattern of red and buff sandstone bands at the base of the older Jaipur House has been carried through to the new buildings, though here only red sandstone has been used - the effect of the bands has been achieved by recessing alternate bands. The facades are designed as layers or planes that overlap to derive a certain sophistication in the composition of the elevations. This is a departure from a more conventional approach of “Modernist” architecture, where building plans are simply extruded to form the external walls, creating a mono-dimensional and impervious facade.

The “layered” facades generate the impression of generous verandahs and entrance porticos typical of the older institution buildings that stand on either sides of Raj Path. The use of repetitive columns to establish scale and monumentality is, in certain respects, a universal device and may be seen in examples of classical architecture. The use of similar colonnades is seen in such diverse cultures as the Buddhist temples at Sanchi, the Greek temples of the Acropolis or the Temple of Hatsepsuth in Egypt.

The placement of the New Wing on the site ensures that from most of the major roads, and especially the Hexagon side, the existing Jaipur House still dominates the view. The new extension presents its complete façade only from the Zakir Husain Marg. The design of the facades, though derived from the older Jaipur House, is also an example of deliberate “coding” to place the building within contemporary times. Unlike the rules of Neo-classical architecture, each of the facades of the three blocks is designed as an asymmetrical composition The facade of the new building has been composed to appear as “layered” and fragmented by the use of colonnaded screens that deconstruct the solid mass of the New Wing’s three blocks. The “layering” effect has been extended to the details of stone cladding, where the separation of the stone slabs cladding the masonry walls have been highlighted by means of aluminum flashings and corners. The joints and corners have been deliberately detailed to indicate to the viewer that the New Wing is a contemporary building, especially when compared to the solid ashlar stone masonry walls of the older Jaipur House.

The “layering” of the facade of the New Wing also has another purpose. It allows the new building to appear less solid despite its larger volume and therefore creates a backdrop for the older building. From within the complex, the facade of the new extension, partly obscured by trees, appears not as a solid mass but as a composition of overlapping screens of shadow and light.

Organisation of the Site

Vehicular entry to the site is from the gate adjacent to the High Court on Sher Shah Suri Marg, while the exit gate is on the Hexagon road. Visitors who approach the site on foot may enter from any of these gates. Service entry to the complex is from Justice Sunanda Bhandare Marg at the rear of the complex, on the side of the Air Force Officer’s Mess. Cargo vehicles enter through the service gate to access freight elevators that are located in the rear corner of each of the three blocks of the New Wing.

Upon entering the Jaipur House compound, the landscaping is designed to guide the visitor to the Central Court behind the older palace building. The Central Court acts as an orientation space between the older Jaipur House and the New Wing’s main Gallery Block. Visitors who enter the complex through the Hexagon Gate have the option to approach the NGMA Institution and Administrative Block first, before continuing to the Central Court. The Institution Block houses the Auditorium and Preview Theatre at the ground level and is open to the public for special shows. The upper floors of this block house the Library, Classrooms, Conservation Laboratories and Offices. To reach the Exhibition Hall and Cafeteria Court from the Institution Block a visitor would need to walk ahead instead of turning towards the Central Court. Appropriately located signage panels inform and direct visitors through the complex and the facilities smoothly.

The approach from the entry gate at the High Court end leads the visitor through landscaped gardens to the Central Court. From here the visitor chooses to visit the permanent art collection either within the New Wing or the older Jaipur House. The older Jaipur House is used as a special gallery space to display art treasures specific to the period of the building, such as the Amrita Shergil Collection and the works of the Bengal School.

From the Central Court one could also continue past the colonnaded screen down to the Exhibition Hall and Cafeteria Court to see the specially curated exhibitions. The landscaped grounds of the complex and the courts between the three blocks of the New Wing have been designed as sculpture gardens and function as outdoor galleries.

Illumination and Organisation of Spaces within the Galleries

The Permanent Galleries of the New Wing are entered through the tall colonnaded screen fronting the Central Court. The first space entered is the reception and facilitation lobby that is formed by the corner of the “angled” square which sits within the triple height atrium of the first gallery block. This atrium visually unites and orients different floors within this block. The adjoining gallery block has two of its upper floors linked to this first block through a bridge formed by ramps. The externally accessed Exhibition Hall space is located at the lower level of this second block. The gallery floors between the two blocks have “staggered” floor levels. This creates within each of the blocks, a variety of volumes to suit different display requirements.

The gallery floors between the two blocks may be visited in a continuous sequence from top to bottom. However, given the extent of the area to be visited within the galleries, a visitor would require more than a day to see all the floors in detail. The gallery floors are therefore designed to be seen separately over several visits. For such a requirement the circulation to each of the floors have been designed to be accessed separately as well. Connections between floors within each of the blocks are by means of stairs, corner ramps as well as an elevator. Therefore, in effect multiple modes of vertical circulation have been positioned on each of the floors to allow them to be accessed separately.

The corner ramps function beyond their capacity of conveying a visitor from one floor to the next. They also help to give an overview of each of the floors that one leaves or enters into. Furthermore, since they are located on the external face of each block, they function as buffer spaces between the windows of the external screen walls and the gallery floors. In this way direct sunlight is restricted from entering the display areas and instead diffused daylight illuminates the gallery floors from the sides. The galleries are also lit from above by means of specially designed skylights that allow only indirect, diffused day lighting to illuminate the deeper central spaces of the gallery floors.

Natural illumination within the gallery spaces is supplemented by “intelligent” artificial illumination systems. Daylight sensors automatically regulate the overall ambient lighting within gallery spaces to a preset illumination level that remains constant irrespective of variations in sunlight caused by diurnal or seasonal cycles. The primary illumination within the galleries is therefore provided by designed day lighting, supplemented with synchronised, colour balanced, high efficiency fluorescent light fittings. A grid of ceiling mounted lighting tracks provide further flexibility to highlight specific art objects using specially developed low glare track mounted luminaries. The paintings are displayed on a system of movable modular walls. The wall positions, therefore, are flexible and can be altered at any point and positioned according to the specially designed flooring patterns which are in “sync” with the lighting arrangements. In this way the layout of the Permanent Gallery floors are not frozen but have the capacity to be changed and added to, at any stage in the future. Therefore, even the Permanent Gallery floors have an inbuilt potential to be dynamically changed in response to display specific demands of the curator from time to time.

Support Spaces and Services

The lowest basement stretches continuously under the three blocks connecting them seamlessly to various stores, plant rooms, workshops and other related services. In this way the entire service infrastructure is contained within the lowermost level and is connected through secured freight elevators and service stairs to the display galleries, photography, conservation laboratories and administration areas on the upper floors of the three blocks. Art storage areas are equipped with “state of the art” fire fighting and access control systems. Locating the support facilities in the basement allows the upper floors of the three blocks to be separated from each other thereby creating sculpture courts between them, while augmenting controlled natural light within the blocks from increased external wall surfaces. This move creates a complex and layered building in plan, and also makes it far easier to navigate from the end user’s point of view. With the result, there are no real “front” or “back” to the buildings. The visitor, therefore, is allowed unhindered access to all outdoor display areas of the site without interfering with the planned service routes in any of the blocks. The Conservation Laboratory in its size and with “state of the art” facilities is the largest in the country and is comparable to the very best in the world. The expanded Reference Library is a treasure house of printed and digital material on Art and Culture and also provides Web based links to significant sites and partner institutions in India and around the world.

Process and Tribulations

The process of constructing a building, if anything, is not a simple one. Anyone who has been involved in the construction of a house would be only too familiar with the complexity of the building process. One of the responsibilities of the architect is to plan and detail a project in a manner that makes the process of construction a smooth one. However it must be borne in mind that the building process is also one of partnership between the architect, the client and the executing agency. The celebrated architect, Joseph Allen Stein, had once remarked that a good project is one where the architect, the client and the contractor have been able to forge a true, responsive and positive partnership. The case of the NGMA New Wing is no different. The partnership between the trio in this project could be thought of as good, but one which always had the opportunity to become better. That it would have benefited from further improvements are visible on a closer inspection of the New Wing. The quality of finishes, especialy when seen with the older Jaipur House, shows the missed opportunity in producing a comparable new building.

The architectural detailing at all levels attempted to create “simple to execute” construction techniques based upon traditional skills of workmanship. The innovation in detailing was through the juxtaposition of different materials in an unconventional manner. Limits in achieving the desired image for the New Wing, were pushed, but always within practical and do-able limits. Over a thousand architectural, structural and services drawings were created to be able to build this vast and complex project. The architectural documents were coordinated between different agencies and engineering consultants to be able to produce such a building. During construction, there was also the larger than usual list of misinterpretations and changes based on site conditions that needed to be skillfully incorporated back architecturally, into the spirit of the original design.

In the case of NGMA New Wing, there existed another process that spanned over twenty years predating the period of construction. This process started in 1985, after the prize winning entry was selected for construction. Since then several extraordinary situations cropped up chronologically through a time period of twenty three years, causing the project to be completed after surviving a series of “on” and “off” conditions. They were unprecedented to say the least. The extraordinary circumstances dragged the time line, caused two separate foundation stone laying ceremonies, three detailed estimates, two Administrative Sanctions and two separate sets of tender documents (including two separate pre-bid meetings). The delay causing factors could be summed up into two categories. The first category was of those incidents that were related to the protracted litigation and eventual demolition of the single storied hutments, which were the servants’ quarters of the erstwhile palace. The second category is related to the vagaries of the site conditions and shifting priorities of the client organisation. It is interesting to note here that TEAM, as the architects, was the only constant in this lengthy gestation period of the project.

The municipalisation process in itself was a complex and involved one, where clearances were required from several separate authorities. The New Delhi Municipal Committee (NDMC) was the primary municipal authority responsible for giving the final approval. However before the NDMC, clearances were required from the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Central Vistas Committee (CVC), the Chief Fire Office (CFO) and the Delhi Urban Arts Commission (DUAC). While the project was given a go-ahead in a normal course of time by the DDA, CVC, and the CFO, the DUAC deliberated over the project’s design for over three years. The DUAC members at that time decided to question the decisions of the high powered jury that had selected the very design for the New Wing. The jury had several eminent members such as Shri H. Y. Sharda Prasad (who officiated as the jury chairperson), noted architects Shri Charles Correa and Shri Ranjit Sabikhi, eminent artist Prof. Shankho Choudhury (who was himself a member of the DUAC), Shri K. M. Saxena (Chief Architect CPWD), Shri. M. K. Kaudinya (Chief Engineer CDO, CPWD) and Shri L. P. Sihare, the then Director NGMA. The unusual stance taken by the DUAC brought together several respected senior architects to the defense of the original design. Among those architects who defended the design were such stalwarts such as Shri J. M. Benjamin, Shri A. P. Kanvinde, and Shri Habib Rehman, who was also the founder secretary of the DUAC. Mr. Habib Rehman went on to issue a strong press statement critisising DUAC's role at large and thier inexplicable stand on the New Wing's design.

Eventually, the delay in the process of obtaining municipal sanctions did not affect the date of commencement of construction. Issues such as the eviction of illegal occupants from the outhouses and the lengthy repetitive process of obtaining Administrative Sanctions extended the timeline much beyond the municipal approvals. However, despite the delays, it is creditable that the project was completed within the limits of the Completion Costs covered in the EFC approval accorded for the project.

A special exhibition entitled, “Making of the New Wing” is to be mounted within the galleries as a part of the schedule of events that mark the opening of the New Wing.

The project, spanning over twenty three years makes it impossible to name every individual who has been associated or has been involved in some way with the making of the New Wing. TEAM thank s each one of them. The following is a select list of people who have worked over extended lengths on the project.


Shri A R Ramanathan

Shri Snehanshu Mukherjee

Shri Siddhartha Mishra

Shri Gaurav Kapoor

Km Anamika Bagchi

Km Sanjana Lingala

Km Mitali Saikia

Shri Amit Murao

Shri Himanshu Lal

Shri Nitin Kapor

Shri Arijit Dey

Shri Prabuddha Bhattacharya

Smt Pragati Sharma

Shri Meher Kuljeet Bhalla

Shri Aditya Krishna

Shri Neelabh Maitreya

Smt Maithily Golhar

Shri Nikhil Joshi

Shri Shreshth Nagpal

Shri Gaurav Sharma

Shri Somdeb Bharati

Smt Pallavi Kalia

Km Madhulika Puri

Shri Ashish Thapar

Shri Rajiv Rajora

Km Mrinalini Sane

Shri V Krishnan

Shri Dhruv Jyoti Ghosh

Smt Madhu Pandit

Shri Adit Pal

Shri Ravi Kaimal

Shri T Krishna

Shri Anurag Gupta

December 31, 2008

TEAM is an interdisciplinary group of professionals from the fields of architecture, planning and design, besides building engineering and management. The primary objective of TEAM is to provide such consultancy services, through an integrated approach to all allied services, as are not available to clients through a single agency.In addition this group is capable of design of graphics, product design and specialised audio visual installations.
TEAM, through their designs, has consistently attempted to address the issues of “sustainability” and “conservation”- both before construction andduring the life cycle of a building. This concern has led the designers in TEAM to research and question“conventions” so as to design improved building systems. These would encompass structural systems, construction materials, finishes, climatic response and other building services such as sanitation waste management and energy conservation systems. The designs optimise the use of resources to create spaces and buildings that shape a new context and yet are simultaneously rooted to their immediate context of the site and the larger context of the region.