Architecture for Modern India

Christopher Benninger

Skira (Buy)

8th July 2016

Bal Gandharva Rangmandir, JM road, Pune (Map)



Christopher’s early architectural works were highly influenced by his association with modernist architects, under who he studied, and the modernist pioneers of India who were his mentors in the 1960’s and 70’s. His early work like the Centre for Development Studies and Activities, and the United World College of India gave way to a more individualistic and robust style in the recent decade through works like the Samundra Institute of Maritime Studies, the Suzlon One Earth and the Indian Institute of Management at Kolkata. Multiple award winning Master Architect, Christopher’s interest in urbanism took him to Sri Lanka, across India and up to the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. His Supreme Court of Bhutan, National Ceremonial Plaza, UN House and other civic institutions in Bhutan continue the strong traditions of craftsmanship in Bhutan, applying them to modern programmatic contexts. He is presently engaged in the design of the Azim Premji University, the Indian Institute of Technology at Hyderabad, and many institutions around the city of Pune where his center, India House is situated. Christopher began his teaching career at The School of Architecture at Ahmedabad (1968), Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (1969-71), The School of Planning at Ahmedabad (which he founded with Balkrishna Doshi in late 1971), and at the Centre for Development Studies and Activities .His book, Letters To A Young Architect, won the Best Architecture Book of the Year Award 2012 and was on the Top Ten Best Selling Non-fiction Books List for many months.

Born and brought up in America in an Academic and Artist family, Prof. Christopher Benninger is one of India’s highly decorated architects. Perhaps, very few architects would have had three different approaches to the profession as Benninger would have had spanning a career of 5 decades as an institution builder and professor, as a UN and World Bank consultant advising many governments and pioneering social planning, designing several thousands of low cost housing for the less previledged in Jamnagar, Chennai, Hyderabad and many other towns, and as a Master Architect designing many modern Institutions fueling development in India. His well known award winning projects are the Mahindra United World College of India, the Samundra Institute of Maritime Studies, and the YMCA Camp Site at Nilshi, Suzlon One Earth and his own studio and residence “India House” in Pune are well known of his creations.


Benninger studied urban planning at MIT and architecture at Harvard University where he later taught. He settled in India in 1971, founding the School of Planning at Ahmedabad, where he continues as a Distinguished Professor. His name appears along side Geoffrey Bawa, Charles Correa and Balkrishna Doshi as one of the few recipients of the Great Master Architect Award in India presented every three years.


His firm, Christopher Charles Benninger Architects, has recently been awarded one of India’s most sought after commissions: The Azim Premji University at Bengaluru; and the Indian Institute of Technology at Hyderabad, along with the Indian Institute of Management at Kolkata. The  Supreme Court of Bhutan was inaugurated recentlty by Prime Minister of India establishing democracy in the Himalyan Kingdom. His city and regional planning works range from Sri Lanka, across India to Bhutan.


His recent book, Letters To A Young Architect, focuses on the practice of architecture in transforming societies directed specifically at young architects and students. It was on the Top 10 Best Selling Non-Fiction Books List for 18 weeks in India. The book is also translated into a Chinese language and a Gujarati edition and being translated into Bengali, Arabic, Tamil and Malayalam currently. It was judged the “Best Architectural Book of the Year: 2012.”


Recently,SKIRA published a book on Prof. Benninger: Christopher Benninger: Architecture for Modern India – This large format monograph traces architectural practice, through Benninger’s work, over the past five decades of economic transformation and social change. Benninger’s experience begins in the socialist, closed economic era, when India was a rural society. It blends into the present free market, urban society of the world’s largest global economy. Each of Benninger’s creations, whether in urban planning or architecture is a benchmark of India’s evolving character and persona.

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