The history of the IIA is one of absorbing interest. Unfolding over the years, it speaks in manifold aspects – of the struggles and influence of architectural education from one solitary centre throughout India, of the rebirth and youth of a profession which the Country had almost forgotten, of a struggle for existence and the need to have the meaning and value of Architecture and architectural service understood and attempts and experiments towards a new stage in the architecture of the country. In the Renaissance or reawakening of India, the Institute has its due place in the sphere of Architecture.
Its history is also one of men with vision and ideals, men who had at heart, the welfare of architecture and the profession and who with such a goal, helped to lay and build up the foundations of an architectural future fraught with the finest possibilities conceivable.
The Architectural Student’s Association (1917-22)
On May – 12th, 1917, the first historic meeting was held in Mr. Foster King’s bungalow, set in the sylvan surroundings of the School of Art compound. It was here, according to a tablet on the building, that the famous Rudyard Kipling was born on the 30th December 1865. One may well imagine what the scene must have been then, for some of the beautiful surroundings of trees and greenery are fortunately still preserved in the very heart of a great industrial and commercial city. In such a setting of beauty and peace, the child that was to grow up into the Indian Institute of Architects, was also born.
At the first meeting held, the members present decided to form themselves into an association of the past students of Architecture of Sir J.J. School of Art and it was decided to christen the infant “The Architectural Students Association”. Late Mr. George Wittet, the then Consulting Architect to the Government of Bombay, was unanimously elected as the first “President” of the Association.
The Bombay Architectural Association (1922-29)
The activities of the Association showed, steady progress and after Professor Cable’s term of office, Mr. Batley was elected President in 1921, and it was about this time, that members began to seriously consider an improvement in status of the Association. The word “Students” seemed inapt for a body that had now practising Architects within its fold and at a special General Meeting held on the 15th June 1922, the changes in the Constitution and Bye-Laws, were unanimously approved and in the 3rd ordinary meeting of the members on 3rd August 1922, Mr. Batley, President, announced the formal inauguration of the rechristened Association.
Affiliation To The Royal Institute Of British Architects (1925)
As for back as the beginning in 1922, there had been tentative visions of affiliation with that powerful and Empire-Wide architectural body, The Royal Institute of British Architects. On a requisition made by 15 members, a special General Meeting was called on 20th November 1924 in which Prof. Claude Bately moved the resolution of getting the final examination of RIBA to be held in India. The alliance was formally confirmed at a Special General Meeting held in the School of Architecture on the 14th May 1925. The first examination could be held only in 1930. The five year Diploma Course inaugurated in 1923, was recognised for exemption from the intermediate examination. This step allied the Association with the most powerful body of Architects.
The Indian Institute Of Architects (1929)
Affiliation with R.I.B.A. in 1925 led to consideration of further changes in the existing Constitution and Bye-Laws. One of the first was that members of the R.I.B.A. in the Bombay Presidency and throughout India were now coming into the fold of the Association. It was on 2nd September 1929 that the new body was re-organised in Bombay and officially registered as “THE INDIAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS”. Its chief objects, among others, as stated in the Memorandum of Association were;
“To continue the work of the Bombay Architectural Association founded as the Architectural Student’s Association in 1917” and
“To encourage the study of Architecture, to elevate the standard of Architectural Practice and by mutual support, to promote the interests of Architects throughout India”.
The Institute began its activities in the room of the Sohrab F. Bharoocha Architectural Library, 7-10, Elphinston Circle, Bombay and this therefore was the first permanent headquarters for the various activities of the Institute. Later, as things improved, the Institute and Library moved into the new and more convenient quarters which it at present occupies at Prospect Chambers Annexe, Hornby Road, now Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Mumbai – 400 001.
In 1929, the membership was 158. Today it has crossed the 20,000 mark.
Legal Status of the Institute
The Indian Institute of Architects is registered under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 as a voluntary organisation of Architects. The only other organisation at the national level is the Council of Architecture established under the Architects Act 1972 with the statutory duty of Registration.
Outreach Programmes of the Institute
The Institute has a major role to play in promoting the profession of architecture. It has very large area and population of the Republic of India to serve. The ‘Outreach’ programmes are conducted through its Chapters and Centres who communicate with the public in various regional languages by using the press and electronic media. Public lectures are also arranged on commemorative days such as the World Environment Day, the World Habitat Day etc.
The IIA Publications Board and the Editorial Committee publish the Journal of the Indian Institute of Architects (JIIA) and a Newsletter every month. All members of the Institute receive a free copy. In addition, all student members of the Institute receive a copy of News Letter of IIA.
The Institute reaches out to the public through its Chapters and Centres. Some special programmes are also arranged at the headquarter, and other Chapters and centres involving international participation.
Resources of the Institute
The Institute continued to face a resource crunch. Although an 83 year old organisation, attention was neglected in giving itself a fitting ‘Head Quarter Building’. This is attributed, most likely, to the location of the rented premises in the most preferred location in the commercial heart of the city of Mumbai and that too under the old rents!
The Institute does have a library established by an endowment. The “Sohrab Bharucha Architectural Library” is located at the Headquarters in Mumbai. It is open to all members and students of architecture.