Ar Christopher Benninger is a ‘Great Master Architect’ award recipient, founder of the School of Planning at Ahmedabad (CEPT University) and the Center for Development Studies and Activities (CDSA) at Pune. He has worked on Urban plans, rural and regional plans along with low-cost mass housing projects in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and America. He advised as a consultant on Urbanism to the UNO, World Bank, and ADB. As principal of the firm Christopher Charles Benninger has been a registered architect with the Council of Architecture since 1976; a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Architects a Fellow of the Institute of Town Planners, a Member of the American Institute of Architects, a Member of the American Planning Association.
He established a small proprietorship design firm in 1995 along with Founder Managing Director Mr. Ramprasad Akkisetti. With the changing economic liberalization and part of the expansion plan, Benninger Technical Services came into being in 1999 that eventually morphed into Christopher Charles Benninger Architects Private Limited (shortened to be addressed as CCBA) in 2000. CCBA as a Brand name for several decades is an Indian Multidisciplinary design company with primary focus on Architecture, Design, and Planning.
The award-winning American-Indian Architect and planner- Christopher Benninger was a keynote speaker in WADE ASIA 2017. He also launched his book, "Architecture for Modern India at the WADE Asia event. The book was published in Italy by Skira- Rizzole. In 2016, at the WADe Asia event, he had talked about all women who influenced and changed his life. Let's find out what he has to say about the 10 plus 1 gurus who changed his life:
Barbara Ward was the Editor of Economist at one time, a very eminent woman economist who even wrote speeches for the Pope and Kennedy. She organised the Habitat One Conference in Vancouver as well as UNCHS Habitat in Nairobi. Another Conference she organised with Maurice Strong was the Stockholm Environmental Conference, the first UN Environmental Conference. Barbara argued that all of these organisations should get out of Geneva, New York and Rome and they should be in Emerging countries. “She was an amazing person,” says Christopher, adding “I met Barbara Ward for lunch, when I was a student at Harvard in 1966, at the end of the lunch she asked ‘Why don’t you come for the Delos Symposium in Greece’ which had people like Margaret Mead, Buckminster Fuller, Arnold Toynbee. When I said, I would love to but I can’t afford, she said ‘Don’t bother, I will pay your air fare’. Wonderful! Isn’t it? So these are the kind of people who change your life. Up until the time I met Barbara Ward, I was a small town boy, lucky to be studying at Harvard and I met this woman who was incredible that she said ‘I’ll take you to Greece.’”
Christopher was highly influenced by Barbara Ward when he designed the Mahindra United World College in India, a global college with global thinking with students from usually over 60 countries. “She was globalist and she gifted me a window into Internationalism as a positive thing,” he added. When he started the institute Centre for Development Studies in Pune, Barbara Ward became its first President.
Jaquline Tyrwhitt was the Editor of a Journal called ‘Ekistics’, one of the Founders for the movement on Urban Design and she taught Christopher at Harvard. On his trip to Greece, Christopher had stayed at her home and got to know her. She had lived in India for 3 years as a UN Consultant helping Nehru start the Ministry of Housing, and she was very familiar with India. “She is the person who told me at one point in my life ‘Why don’t you go to India, you will learn a lot there’. So how did she change my life? Well I came to India,” he says.
“Suddenly, I had started thinking Internationally, I was doing things I would have never done before and I learn about people’s relationships, how they work and I think it’s very exciting to me”
When he started Centre for Development Studies, it focussed on poverty alleviation, environmental change and quality, people like Barbara Ward and Jaquline Tyrwhitt were his influences.
While attending the Delos Symposium Seminar, Christopher made friends with Margaret Mead and her daughter Mary Catherine Bateson. Margaret Mead invented something called the ‘Sexual Revolution’ with her book ‘Coming of Age in Samoa’ where she made very famous arguments about sexuality. When she came back to America in the 1950’s, the Women’s Liberation Movement was well on its way and so was the sexual revolution. She was a woman who had no hesitation to talk about sex and she was the woman who had no hesitation to talk about alternative lifestyles, women’s role & women’s rise.
Read the full article here... http://www.wadeasia.com/christopher-charles-benninger/
CCBA gained momentum with its award-winning project Mahindra United World College of India way back in 1999 that won accolades across the World. It was named as the top 10 Super Structures in 2000 by Business Week and American Institute of Architects, Washington, USA. It was the top 20 finalist of Aga Khan Awards in Geneva, Switzerland and World Architecture Awards in Berlin, Germany. Construction World Magazine has conferred ‘TOP 10 Architects of India’ award several times. The designs of the studio have been published about 300 times in most of the national and international magazines and architectural journals, such as Ekistics (Greece), Spazio-e-Societe (Italy), AIArchitect (USA), Cities (UK), Architectural Record (USA), ZOO (UK), Business Week (USA), Architects’ Newspaper (USA), Arquitectura Viva (Spain), World Architecture (UK), MIMAR (UK), Habitat International (UK), Architecture+Design, Indian Architect and Builder, Inside-Outside (India) and many others. This propelled the firm to be chosen as the most sort after firm for any institutional project in India, as it set an example that institutional architecture doesn’t have to be regimental in design, perhaps, still under the influence of colonial philosophy of learning as seen in many of the schools, colleges or centres of higher learning.