2018 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate: B.V. Doshi and the Toronto Connection

May 21, 2018 | Katherine

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On Friday evening, Balkrishna V. Doshi was awarded this year's Pritzker Architecture Prize in a ceremony at the serenely beautiful Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. Established in 1979, the Pritzker is awarded annually to a living architect who "has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture." 

Aga Khan Museum                    Aga Kahn Museum, Toronto

Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi has spent much of his life blending modernist principles with local architectural norms, producing urban projects that connect human cultural and social traditions with place and environment. For more than 60 years, he has championed and taught this philosophy internationally and in his native India. Born in the city of Pune in 1927, he began his architectural studies at the Sir J.J. School of Architecture, Mumbai, the oldest such school in India. He studied in Europe in the early 1950s under celebrated modernist Le Corbusier and returned to India to help supervise Le Corbusier's city building projects in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad. 

Chandigarh Museum
Chandigarh Museum, Chandigarh, India


In the sixties he worked with architects Louis Kahn and Anant Raje, building the Institute of Indian Management in Ahmedabad. His own firm, Vastu-Shilpa Consultants, has created dozens of institutional buildings, galleries, housing projects and private homes, including his own studio, built in Ahmedabad in 1980. Named Sangath ("moving together through participation"), it is home to his architectural firm, but also to the Vatu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Research in Environmental Design.

Education has been as important to Doshi as creation. He founded the School of Architecture and Planning, Ahmedabad, and has taught internationally at MIT, the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and the University of Hong Kong, among others. The Pritzker Prize is only the latest in a long list of awards.

Sangath, Ahmedabad, India


The Pritzker Prize is presented in a different location each year, in a building of architectural significance which draws attention to the importance of built form. This is the first time the award has been presented in Canada, and the Pritzker's communications director Eunice Kim says, "We always look for [a city] that offers vibrancy, livability and diversity." Because the place is decided well in advance of the decision for the prize, there is often no connection between the Laureate and the city.

But Doshi does have a Toronto connection. As a young architect in 1958, he participated in the international competition for a new Toronto City Hall. His entry was composed of a tower and podium that blended modernist principles with traditional and human scale elements. It also featured innovative building techniques, with the entire structure supported from the outside so that the interior space was free of columns. A less imposing four-storey building included a ceremonial ramp and a hip-roofed council chamber. His entry did not win, but like many of the more than 500 entrants in that competition, he went on to create buildings and urban planning projects that changed the face of the world, winning prizes and international fame.

For more on Doshi's competition entry see the Toronto Public Library web presentation A Grand Design: The Toronto City Hall Design Competition.

See also Ryerson Professor George Kapelos' interview with Doshi in the April edition of Canadian Architect Magazine.

Also available at the Toronto Reference Library:

Balkrishna Doshi an architecture for India
Balkrishan Doshi: An Architecture for India

Rethinking modernism for the developing world the complete architecture of Balkrishna Doshi

Rethinking Modernism for the Developing World: The Complete Architecture of Balkrishna Doshi

Chandigarh 1956
 Chandigarh 1956: Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Jane B. Drew, E. Maxwell Fry

Chandigarh the making of an Indian city
Chandigarh: The Making of an Indian city

Sustainable Design

Sustainable Design: Towards a New Ethic in Architecture and Town Planning

Warm Modernity
Warm Modernity: Indian Architecture: Building Democracy