Tribute to the Legendary IM Pei by Architect Rahul Ajit Kadam

The world has lost one of the greatest contemporary architects with the passing away of IM Pei on 16th May 2019.

China Tower HKI owe my profound gratitude to him for shaping my design thinking right from my student days. I was very fortunate to do a seminar in my third year of architectural studies on his works at BKPS College of Architecture, Pune , under the kind guidance of Ar. P. Kanvinde sir.

I recall during the preparation for this seminar, Ar. Mandar Bankhele (my friend and now our consulting lighting designer) asked me looking at his monograph – when would we fly to different countries for  doing such projects? This was in 1992! We also both felt Pei’s large public buildings echoed an architecture of hope!

A few years later following my post graduate studies in London, during a study sabbatical across Europe, I saw his work at the Louvre, in Paris. The Pyramid, the water, the staircase all of it was fascinating!


You have to be there to feel the magic! Immediately after that I had the opportunity and good fortune to train under Ar. Kamal Malik in Mumbai… who is an ardent fan of IM Pei and indirect influences were felt and realised in his studio on projects undertaken then.

Much later in 2013 on a long flight from LA to HK I, happened to watch the documentary “Learning from light” in which the entire story of how the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha was designed and built was showcased, which was designed by Ar. IM Pei. I share with you a few points – I had noted in my sketch book that, I try to follow in my practice today:

  1. Form and Geometry have a co-relation with sunlight.
  2. A cube is not a cube if Sun is not there!
  3. A good building is  the result of a supportive client.
  4. Knowledge of materials is important.EVERSONS MUSEUM DETAIL
  5. Sensitivity to the project first then you!
  6. Use technology to its full potential.
  7. Problem solving ability is very important.
  8. Site visits are important to ensure the design fidelity.
  9. Always learn from your mistakes.
  10. Discipline is important.
  11. Positivity for the project is important.
  12. Passion and energy should never dry up.
  13. Focal elements must be mocked up at site to true scale.
  14. Precision inside and outside is important
  15. Your building should positively contribute as a positive citizen to the city.
  16. Water creates a sound and movement; this brings in emotion.

EVERSONS MUSEUM17. Every problem has different solution, but do not compromise your core vision.

18. External lighting test the massing clarity of a building.

19. Your work should touch the senses of the end users.

I also share a few sketches made in the final year of my under graduate studies, while analysing Museum design of work done by IM Pei and an analysis of the Bank of China in HK when I had gone to see the same in 2016.
The above are lessons of life that keep guiding me and my studio in our quest for sensitive design. His work has and will always inspire me to participate in designing scale driven projects in a holistic way.

Pei Landscape

Rahul Kadam

The above piece has been contributed by Architect Rahul Kadam. An Alumnus of BKPS College of Architecture, Pune, India, Ar. Rahul Kadam did his Masters from South Bank, London, and was a student member at AA, London, UK .He travelled extensively before beginning work with leading architects like Ar. Bimal Patel, Ar. Hasmukh Patel, Kamal Malik and Ar. Karan Grover. He has been a Director & Regional Head at Edifice Consultants Pvt .Ltd (ECPL), for over 15 years, handling diverse portfolios like Hospitals, Hotels, Special Economic Zones, IT campuses, Schools, neighborhood Urban Design projects, adaptive reuse projects, workspace environments etc. in a cutting-edge corporate environment. In his stint at ECPL , he was fortunate  to create workspace environments for various national and multinational corporations like TCS LTD , Tata Chemicals LTD , Avaya , Amdocs , Ventura , Convergys , EDS , PTC, MasterCard, Credit Suisse, CDK Global, Citi Bank, CISCO, to name a few.

Since the last 4.5 years he has his own design firm The NGK Studio in Partnership with his wife Architect Nandini RG Kadam. The ‘NGK Studio’, focus on a sensitive design approach and is working with prominent clients like Bajaj Auto LTD, Elpro International LTD, Mahle inc.,WILO, BHTC, JLL, Life University, Nirmayee , Fiserv ,HRC,etc.

He is a strong follower of the need for Sensitive Design & Green Design to pervade in all sectors of architecture and design, whatever the scale. He has taught and mentored in several architectural schools in India. Also, has presented papers on subjects related to Design and Planning in India and Overseas. He has traveled several countries for project assignments and for studying architecture.  His quest for excellence has helped him be part of award winning & published projects of repute in a career spanning over two decades.