Professor Christopher Benninger is an Overseas Citizen of India, registered with the Council of Architecture, a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Architects and the Institute of Town Planners, India. 160,000 people follow his Facebook page.
Professor Benninger first entered India as a Fulbright Fellow (1968) from MIT, where he was studying on a Carnegie-Mellon Fellowship. During that period, he designed houses for Vadodara slum dwellers, and taught architecture at what is now CEPT University.
In 1969 he accepted a teaching post at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, his alma mater (Master’s in Architecture, 1967). In 1971 he traveled overland to Mumbai, stopping in Ahmedabad to discuss the idea of a new course in city planning. This idea quickly transformed into a reality, necessitating him to resign from Harvard University, returning to India forever on the 27th of October 1971. With Balkrishna Doshi, at age 28, he founded the School of Planning, teaching there and remaining a Distinguished Professor until today. Leaving Harvard, he resigned from a tenure track position of Assistant Professor, being his graduate school’s youngest member of the Faculty Senate.
In 1976 he founded the Centre for Development Studies and Activities (CDSA), a research and post graduate teaching institution of the Pune University, where he served on the Senate and Board of University Teaching and Research. During his tenure as the founder-director of CDSA, Professor Benninger prepared the Integrated Rural Development Programme for Ratnagiri, and the Social Inputs for Area Development Programme for Etawah, resurrecting its famous development programme, that then evolved into a decadal programme between UNICEF and the Government of India.
Professor Benninger wrote the Theme Paper for the Seventh Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements (1984) for the UNCHS (Habitat), also advising the Asian Development Bank, drafting their Urban Policy, changing the ADB’s limited objectives from agricultural, integrating urban issues. For the World Bank, he designed the human settlements strategy for the National Rural Development Program of Indonesia (1978). Professor Benninger carried out more than twenty UNO assignments in Kenya, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Malaysia and Indonesia, focused on alleviating poverty and creating sustainable cities.
In a parallel career, as one of India’s most decorated architects, being honored with the Great Master’s Award, an American Institute of Architect’s award, and five times winning Indian Institute of Architects’ annual awards, receiving more than thirty national and international awards. Amongst his award-winning designs are the Mahindra United World College of India, the Samundra Institute of Maritime Studies, the YMCA International Camp Site, the Forbes Marshall Industrial Park, and Suzlon One Earth, a model green building campus. Other well-known designs are the new IIM, Calcutta campus; IIT, Hyderabad; College of Engineering, Pune; the Kirloskar Institute of Management; CDSA; and the Azim Premji University in Bengaluru.
Professor Benninger has designed structures for Maharashtra’s Dalit Community, including the Mahavihara in Pune, and the Nagaloka Institute of Buddhist Studies in Nagpur. The Prime Minister of India inaugurated his Supreme Court of Bhutan (2014), a gift of the GOI. He was one of the short-listed architects to present concepts to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their Videsh Bhavan on Raj Path (2000).
As an urban planner, he planned the capital city of Bhutan (Thimphu); the new town of Denchi in Bhutan; the Development Plans for Thane and Kalyan in the Mumbai region; plans of six provincial capitals in Sri Lanka, under a UN Program; a regional plan for Goa’s backward hilly region, and many other city and regional plans.
In social housing, Professor Benninger designed the first Economically Weaker Section (EWS) housing scheme for HUDCO (1972) in Jamnagar; he designed the Site and Services Scheme in Chennai (1973-78), reaching more than 15,000 households; and the Yousufguda class IV Workers Township for about two thousand families in Hyderabad (1976).
Professor has published more than fifty articles in national and international journals, chapters in international books, including the chapter on India in Urban Design (2012) for the Royal Institute of British Architects. His book, Letters to A Young Architect (2011) was on the Top Ten Best Selling Non-Fiction Books in India, and CHRISTOPHER BENNINGER An Architecture for Modern India (2016) published by Europe’s leading art publisher, SKIRA, and distributed by Rizzoli in Manhattan.
Recent service to society includes membership on the Ministry of Defence’s selection committees for the architects to design the National War Museum and the National War Memorial. Chairman of the Selection Committee for the Architect for the New Capital at Amaravati, and Member of the Mumbai Docklands Redevelopment Committee for the Ministry of Shipping. He is a Member of the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority.
Professor Benninger has been honored with the Eight Life Time Achievement Awards, instituted by various organisations.
Front Row : (L to R ) Deepak Kaw, Ramprasad Akkisetti, Daraius Choksi, Shivaji Karekar Back Row : (L to R) Noel Jerald V, Rahul Sathe, Christopher Benninger, Bhushan Pise
Operating from founding directors owned premises, ‘India House’, this abode of design provides an iconic office building creating a salubrious work enivironment in the western precinct of Pune city in Balewadi. Apart from housing residential accomodation for the founding directors, India House hosts about 4000 S.Ft of Studio office space and an equally large display Gallery space with a state of the art 50 seater seminar hall, a model making workshop, lobby, and an entry garden courtyard.
A culturally diverse team of young architects and support staff, over the past two decades, have won nearly a hundred prestigious national and international awards. Over the years CCBA has built an enormous pool of knowledge and experience. Many young architects have travelled long distances to work with the studio. A healthy atmosphere in the studio generates deliberations leading to well thought out and articulate designs. Youngsters in the studio employ their exceptional talents through advanced digital simulation, to explore massing compositions, inter-spatial relationships and contextual issues leading to refined spaces emanating from Benninger’s simple hand sketches. The final designs of the studio are an outcome of numerous iterations exploring diverse assumptions and possibilities. Young architects who came to explore their individual potentials, subsequently moved on to establish nationally recognized, award-winning practices.
The firm strictly believes in enhancing education opportunities for architecture students. Each year up to 6 under graduates are offered internship at CCBA for a period of continuous six months or more. This opportunity gives them practical experience as well as exposure to the live projects that are becoming a reality. Interns return back to their colleges with increased confidence and on graduation often come back to work with CCBA as fresh graduates.
The firm strives to be an equal opportunities employer. All staffs are recruited irrespective of their age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religious belief or ethnicity. A strong team of young architects and support staff of 40 members over the past two decades won nearly 50 prestigious national and international awards and nominations. All architects working with the firm are also registered with the Council of Architecture.
First Row : (L to R ) Rahul Sathe, Ramprasad Akkisetti, Christopher Benninger, Daraius Choksi, Siddharth Benninger Second Row : (L to R ) Rahul Deshmukh , Gaurav Inamdar, Noel Jerald V , Shivaji Karekar , Bhushan Pise , Deepak Kaw ,Abizar Teawala, Sundar Bommaji Third Row : (L to R ) C M Patil, Kamal Ajwani, Jasmeet Kaur Jite, Vivek Panchal, Bhargav Khurjekar, Pankaj Bhagwatkar, Sahil Pherwani Fourth Row : (L to R ) Kunal Rakshit, Sampat Sutar, Devyani Shekhawat, Kasturi Kulkarni, Ayushi Sen, Aswathy Ganesh, Rohan Jadhav, Sanjay Sangepu Fifth Row : (L to R ) Punali Kumanan, Krishna Akkisetti, Shantaram Shinde, Seetaram Saw, Krishnadas Vadgama, Shibani Choudhury, Shweta Wandhekar Sixth Row : (L to R ) Shervin Martin, Geeta Kedari, Akbar Hussain, Mehboob Sheikh , Baidyanath Gupta , Hariprasad Saw , Chetna Saner, Suhaasini Hangal Seventh Row : (L to R ) Vaisakh Bathery