When he returned to his native India after having trained and practiced architecture in the United States, Somshankar Bose, AIA, established his own practice, Bose Laboratory and Industrial Planning Solutions (BLIPS). As the AIA, through President Clark Manus’s trip to Mumbai and through high-level conversations with the Department of Commerce, strives to increase the viability of architects working abroad, Bose is now looking for opportunities to develop a component in India, which will draw together AIA members interested in opportunities there.
When I moved back to India, in October 2010, it was for personal reasons, but I found that many U.S.-trained architects had relocated here because of the downturn in the American economy. The market here is very strong and there are many architects with American degrees and licenses, so I thought it would be important to help organize these professionals.
The practice here hasn’t evolved too much since the 1950s. The knowledge base comes from the British system, but it hasn’t been updated to current RIBA or global standards. The material palette was very limited and so were methods of construction. In the past few years, though, this has all started to change.
When I first returned, before I launched my own practice, I did a short stint in an architecture firm, and after five months I realized what knowledge base was available to practitioners here and what was unavailable. I was very involved in the Wisconsin chapter of AIA, so I know that for a lot of the missing pieces here, in India the AIA can really contribute.
To help fill this gap, over the past few months we’ve laid the groundwork for an AIA chapter here. I’ve been reaching out to a network of friends and fellow architects to develop the India chapter. Things take time to develop here, but at this point we have over 50 members. We are putting together seminars about design, practice delivery, and education, and we will bring in world-class speakers and develop programs to connect architects with industry, clients, and manufacturers. We are not the primary professional body in India, though, so we will work in alliance with the Indian Institute of Architects as closely as possible.
Clients here are always interested in developing projects with an international scope, and Indian design firms are always more than willing to partner with American firms, so there is a lot of potential for architects from the U.S. to practice or to collaborate here in India. But with the way the profession is organized here, architects should have a specialization, an expertise in a niche area. This is typically what clients expect.
It feels like the moment is right now. The economy is very robust, and in the next 20 years there will be a lot of construction. We just need to keep organizing our profession and expanding our knowledge base.-As told to John Gendall