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  • Venessa Thomas

Prof. Christopher Benninger honoured Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) in Architecture by CEPT University

On the 1st of January 2024, CEPT University, Ahmedabad announced it will be bestowing two Honorary Doctorates at its forthcoming Convocation on the 20th of January 2024. The process for doing so was instituted by the University’s Governing Body during its meeting on the 11th of September 2023. Its objective was to honour individuals who have made profound, far-reaching and inspiring contributions to the fields that CEPT University is engaged in, through their work in education, research, and practice and who exemplify the highest personal and professional standards in the fraternity. 


On the 20th of January, among the two Honorary Doctorates, celebrated Indian master architect and planner Prof. Christopher Charles Benninger was bestowed with a Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) in Architecture in CEPT, Ahmedabad.

A brief history:

Prof. Christopher Benninger is a distinguished architect, planner, teacher and institution builder. Born in Ohio, USA Benninger's architectural journey mirrors the life of a dedicated scholar who had the privilege of being surrounded by accomplished architects and designers, serving as an enduring source of inspiration. He holds a Master's in Architecture from Harvard University and a Master’s in City Planning from MIT. In the late 1960s, after resigning from his tenured professorship at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, Benninger embarked on a transformative journey to India, harbouring a profound vision to establish the School of Planning, at the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology, now recognized as CEPT University in Ahmedabad. On the invitation of the renowned Indian Architect B.V. Doshi, the significant decision to move continents marked a pivotal juncture in his evolution as an architect. The master architect, professor and author has since been associated with the celebrated university and is currently serving as its board member. He also recently designed the 'Center for Design Foundation', an academic block, located adjacent to the School of Architecture on the campus. 


The legacy enforced by Benninger:

In 1995, the architect set up 'Christopher Charles Benninger Architects (CCBA). His architectural practice has since continued to produce exemplary and highly inspiring projects, ranging from institutional campuses, and corporate offices to national government buildings, located in more than 20 cities in India as well as around the globe. 


He has designed campuses and buildings for over twenty universities including IIT Hyderabad; IIM Calcutta; Azim Premji University; CEPT University; and Bajaj Institute of Technology that focus on sustainability and human scale. He has designed award-winning manufacturing plants; a clinic for mentally challenged children; and the Suzlon One Earth Corporate office that became globally known for its zero energy consumption being certified as platinum LEED certified as well as Griha five-star green certified building. He has worked closely with the Buddhist community designing the Mahavihara in Pune and Nagaloka in Nagpur. He has designed the Supreme Court of Bhutan and several ministry buildings along with the Thimphu National Capital region paving a path for the Himalayan kingdom to move from monarchy to democracy. He is presently designing the National Parliament complex in Burundi, Central Africa and a Brain Research Centre in Shanghai, besides landmark institutions like the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and 23 Metro stations for metro line 3 in Pune.


His work has had an immense impact on affordable housing, leading to the construction of India’s first EWS housing scheme by HUDCO at Jamnagar [1972]; 15,000 Site and Services housing units in Chennai funded by the World Bank [1973-8], and the EWS Yousufguda township for 2,000 families [1976-80].


His book, ‘Letters to A Young Architect’ has been reprinted in 6 editions and was in the top 10 non-fiction books by the Hindu newspaper, perhaps the only architecture book to be on the list to date. The book has also been translated into Gujarati, Bangla and into Chinese. A monograph ‘Christopher Benninger: Architecture for a Modern India’ has also been published by Skira in Italy and Rizzoli in the USA in 2016. He authored the chapter on built heritage in ‘Connecting Through Culture’, published for the Ministry of External Affairs and many chapters in books, both in India and outside, alongside hundreds of articles.


A recipient of the coveted Great Master Architect Award in India and several other lifetime achievement awards, he has won the Indian Institute of Architects’ National award six times, more than any other architect. 

Having an expansive practice in both architecture and planning, he is perhaps the only person today with a multi-faceted career spanning over fifty years. Through his lectures across India and the world and the activities at India House in Pune – the place where he lives and works – he has been a tireless advocate for the betterment of Indian architecture and forged an ever-lasting legacy of his work and contributions to Modern Architecture in the country. In expressing his gratitude, Prof. Benninger thanked the university for the recognition, the Board of Governors, the Lalbhai family for more than half a century of inspiration, Sanjay Lalbhai and Dr. Bimal Patel. Watch the entire ceremony on our YouTube channel:


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