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Wrightwood 659 Reopens With Balkrishna Doshi Exhibition

Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for the People brings a retrospective of the Indian Pritzker Prize-winning architect’s work to Chicago, on view September 9 through December 12, 2020.

Balkrishna Doshi, Housing for the Life Insurance Corporation of India, Ahmedabad (1973) ©Vastushilpa Foundation, Ahmedabad

Chicago gallery Wrightwood 659 is celebrating its reopening on September 9 with the special distinction of being the first North American venue to present Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for the People, a retrospective of the work of seminal Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi.

On view through December 12, the exhibition presents significant projects realized between 1958 and 2014, ranging in scale from entire cities and town planning projects to academic campuses, cultural institutions, and public administrative offices; from private residences to interiors. These works embody Doshi’s core belief in the power of architecture as a radical and profound act, one that can create lasting positive change in the ways people relate to and live with one another.

Left: Interior view of the foyer at the Tagore Memorial Hall (1966), Ahmedabad (©Vastushilpa Foundation, Ahmedabad) | Right: The Indian Institute of Management’s campus (1977), Bangalore (©Vinay Panjwani India)

Doshi maintains that architecture in and of itself is incomplete, and that it is only in its interaction with its inhabitants that its potential is fully realized. His work seeks a “living” architecture, one in which people, nature, and the built environment are melded in active dialogue, all evolving together.

In 2018, Balkrishna Doshi won the Pritzker Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious architectural awards. However, he is still not broadly known in the United States. Yet the values inherent to his work — inclusiveness and a deep respect for those who live, work, or study in his buildings — are particularly resonant today, with issues of justice and equity in high relief.

Doshi himself has said, “As an architect, if I’m not able to do something for the people, to provide them with what they need, then I think I’m leaving something undone.”

Architecture for the People brings to a wider audience Doshi’s extensive cultural contributions as an architect, educator, city planner, artist, author, and founder of numerous institutions. Over nearly 70 years of practice, he has fundamentally altered the built environment of India, celebrating its architectural heritage while creating new forms, proving that thoughtful design can democratize space beyond that of the physical world. 

To reserve a ticket for Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for the People, visit tickets.wrightwood659.org.

Interior view of the underground art gallery Amdavad ni Gufa (1995), Ahmedabad (©Iwan Baan)
Premabhai Hall (1976), Ahmedabad (©Vinay Panjwani India)

Balkrishna Doshi: Architecture for the People continues at Wrightwood 659 (659 W Wrightwood Ave, Chicago, IL 60614) through December 12. Visit tickets.wrightwood659.org to reserve a ticket.