Golden Architect Award for Benninger

Golden Architect Award For Benninger“Architecture is a curious craft! One structure may follow all the laws of design, yet be worthless, while still other may break all the principles and be profound!
A building may be bad without doing anything wrong, while yet another work may have to sin against architecture to reach perfection!?
- Christopher Charles Benninger.

Christopher Benninger was one among five master architects nominated for the Golden Architect Award of India for life time contribution to the field of Architecture in the sub continent by A D & Spectrum Foundation Architecture Awards 2006.

Recently, the studio has been awarded the Aamby Valley International Residential School at Sahara Lake city, Lonavala; the design for Supreme Court for the Royal Government of Bhutan has been awarded to the studio recently. - The studio is presently working on the design of Suzlon Corporate Campus and the Corporate Learning Centre.

The team has always functioned as like an American studio, having its work bases in India and branches overseas, only taking up projects involving study, analysis and exploration of visual, spatial, formal, social and technological ideas and concepts related to architecture, urbanism and human settlements

Benninger has lived and worked in India for the past thirty-three years, though he was born in America in 1942. In America he was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture as a boy. At the age of twelve he read The Natural House by Wright, which left an indelible mark on him, this can be witnessed in his current work. He studied he studied City Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Architecture at Harvard University under Joseph Luis Sert, where he later served as a Professor of Architecture.

This experience brought him in contact with the ‘European School’ of thought dominated by the abstract, and a separation between nature and built form. His association with Barbara Ward brought him into the Delos Symposium Group where he was closely associated with Buckminister Fuller, Margarete Mead and Arnold Toynbe.

Professor Christopher Charles Beninnger is also an accomplished writer of non-fiction and fiction too.

In 1968, a Fulbright Fellowship brought Benninger from USA to Ahmedabad, but he returned as a Ford Foundation Advisor to found the School of Urban Planning there in 1971. Though born in America his 33 years stay in India has earned him the sobriquet of ‘self imposed exile’

Charles is fond of quoting Mahatma Gandhi’s directive (whose memory was still ‘alive’ then), “Live in a village and plan for the world.?  In 1976 he founded the Centre for Development Studies, in Pune, throwing him headlong in to rural development and poverty alleviation work. He has designed building plans for the Governments of Bhutan, Nepal, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.

A major focus of his designs is institutions, residential schools, business and luxury hotels, corporate headquarters and large housing projects. He relinquished the management of CDSA after twenty years, to become fully involved in his design studio.

Awards are not new to Charles Benninger. He was selected for the Designer of the Year Award 1999 and the American Institute of Architects Award 2000 for his design of the Mahindra United World College. He maintains studios in Pune, India and in Thimpu, Bhutan, where he masterminded the new capital plan, and is presently designing the capital complex. He was advisor to the World Bank, UNO and ADB for development projects in Asia and Africa. As a distinguished architect, planner, institution builder and writer, his works are published widely in international and local publications.

He is a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Architects and of the Institute of Town Planners, India; member of the American Institute of Architects; the International Society for City and Regional Planning; the World Society for Ekistics and the American Planning Association. He is registered with the Council of Architects.

“Being an outsider is elemental to seeing problems in new ways. It leads to more creative insights and angles from which things can be seen and related,? Benninger opines, “Architecture involves social, spatial, cultural and technological relationships, and being an outsider allows one to throw off the given truths, to reconsider them, and to re think what the nature of things are. We can never know the truth in architecture…..?

More recently he has been cited as one of India’s top ten architects by ‘Interiors and Exteriors’ magazine. Benninger’s literary works have been published in Femina and Biblio. Business Week named his work as among the top ten ‘Super Structures of the World’ in 2000. He is also author of a novel, Samsara, set in the Anapurna range of the Himalayas.


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