In January of 2014, AIA New Jersey (AIA-NJ) helped sponsor a delegation of four undergraduate NJIT architecture students, accompanied by School Director, Darius Sollohub AIA, on a one-week trip to India. Working in partnership with India-based Abellon Clean Energy and their non-profit arm Poornakumbha, the team undertook design reconnaissance for a project at Abellon’s agriculture research station in Modasa. Upon return, the students served as ambassadors to guide the entire third year undergraduate class at NJIT (over 100 students) in the design of a state-of-the-art school at Modasa.
While in India, the team immersed themselves in Indian technology, architecture, spicy food and culture. At Abellon’s genomics lab and agricultural research station, they learned about Abellon’s development of bamboo as a sustainable fuel and building material. Students also visited Ahmedabad’s world famous architectural landmarks, including the Indian Institute of Management by Louis Kahn, Le Corbusier’s Millowner’s Building and Balkrishna Doshi’s Center for Environmental Planning and Technology. Students also made an overnight excursion to Udaipur in the neighboring state of Rajasthan. Known as the lake city, Udaipur is the site of some of the finest examples of Mughal-era architecture in India. Interspersing a very full trip, and guided by Abellon staff, the team took in many aspects of vibrant Indian culture and experienced Indian culture, including participation in Ahmedabad’s spectacular Kite Festival.
The third year studio held their final review of the school at Modasa project on March 3rd. The review was attended by AIA-NJ First Vice President, Justin Mihalik AIA. “It was great to be invited back to my alma matter as a critic for a wonderful project that will benefit the India community of Modasa”, Mihalik said. Yogesh Mistry AIA, a Past President of AIA Newark & Suburban Architects also took part in the final critique. NJIT will publish the best sixteen projects in a final report due later this year.
In addition to AIA-NJ, the Society of Indo-American Engineers and Architects (SIAEA), NJIT, Abellon Clean Energy and private donations funded the trip. This was the second year of what NJIT hopes to be an annual excursion.