Sixty nine years old Brinda Somaya is a Bachelor of Architecture from Mumbai’s prestigious architecture school, Sir J J School of Architecture. She has done her Master of Arts from Smith College in Northampton, United States. It’s not just her educational background that distinguishes her from fellow professionals as her professional achievements too are noteworthy.
Brinda Somaya who set up her practice, Somaya and Kalappa Consultants, in 1978 with her sister Ranjini Kalappa started off working from a garden shed and today it is one of the leading architectural firms in the country. In a professional career spanning four decades, Brinda Somaya has serviced service corporate, industrial and institutional clients in India.
Master-planning and building design of multiple corporate and educational campuses have become one of her areas of expertise and also have brought lot of fame for her. Some of these award-winning campuses include Tata Consultancy Services, Banyan Park, Mumbai; Nalanda International School, Vadodara; and Zensar Technologies, Pune. Few year ago, that is in 2015, her firm won the competition for the `Restoration and Upgradation of the historic Louis Kahn Buildings of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A)as well as the new Academic Buildings of the Indian Institute of Technology û Bombay (IIT-B). Last year her firm bagged the assignment to renovate Bombay House, country’s largest conglomerate’s iconic head office. The Bombay House will be closed for business for about a year as it goes for renovation ù its first such closure in 93 years. Despite doing so many prestigious projects, Somaya’s first love had always been towards conservation projects. Do you know why?
During younger days, she used to pass through many beautiful old buildings (heritage structures) daily while going to her school. Seeing those buildings daily right from her childhood had its permanent and indelible impact on her which influenced her beliefs when she started her professional career. When she took up the profession she started believing that every architect has to be sensitive to what has gone before. Thus, over the years she developed a special passion for conservation. She has restored the West End Hotel in Bangalore, the Cathedral School and St Thomas Cathedral in Mumbai.
Brinda Somaya has received many awards and recognitions for her work. In May 2012, she was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, Smith College. In 2014, she was awarded the Indian Institute of Architects Baburao Mhatre Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement. In 2015, she was honoured as Distinguished Professor by the Indian Education Society’s College of Architecture (IES), Mumbai. She is the Chairperson of the Board of Governors, School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada û 2016. In January 2017, she became a Member of the Council of Architecture Committee to Review the Profession and Education of Architecture in India and joined the Board of the Lafargeholcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, Zurich, Switzerland.