Legendary architect, Hafeez Contractor was not born with silver spoon in his mouth but had to undergo lot of struggle in his early part of life. Interestingly, he was not a ‘teachers boy’ and was always irregular in completing homeworks. The only thing he was good at in his school days was drawings and sketches which he used to draw in the blink of an eye. In fact, this quality of Hafeez was noticed by one of his teachers in the school who had predicted that he would become an architect later on. There was another person, who saw an architect in him in his early days and helped him to pursue his career in architecture. Do you know who is he?
Hafeez Contractor, a 2016 Padma Bhushan awardee, is one of the most successful architects of modern India known for innovative designs. In his career spanning five decades, Hafeez Contractor has designed numerous landmark residential and commercial buildings, software parks and many other structures. He has also designed the domestic terminal at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport and the DY Patil Stadium. He was the architect for Chief Minister of Telangana’s official residence, Pragathi Bhavan completed in November 2016. However, all these awards and achievements wouldn’t have been possible but for the support of one person in the initial years.
When Hafeez Contractor passed his SSC, he wanted to pursue architecture but couldn’t get admission in well known architecture schools due to his low marks. On the advice of a cousin who was an architect in USA, Hafeez Contractor met Homi Dallas who was the president of the Indian Institute of Architecture at that time. On the recommendation of Homi Dallas, Hafeez got admission into Academy of Architecture, Mumbai University despite scoring low marks. Thus, meeting with Homi Dallas and his recommendations to Academy of Architecture were major turning points in Hafeez Contractor’s life and career.
There was one more occasion when Homi Dallas helped Hafeez Contractor to tide over the situation.
Once Contractor completed his graduation with a rare distinction, he wanted to go abroad for further studies and had applied to Columbia University. However, Contractor was facing problem in mobilising fees for the course which was $ 15,000 which was a huge sum in 1970s. Again Homi Dallas came to the rescue of Contractor by becoming his guarantor and providing him with required funds. According to Contractor this was again a turning point in his life.