Acclaimed architect Le Corbusier once said – Architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light. And this understanding comes with studying at the right institute. Sir JJ College of Architecture has been that pioneering place, helping budding architects to hone their skills. It has been the cornerstone for architectural excellence since 1913.
And leading this premier college since 2008, with absolute confidence, is Mumbai-based architect and urban planner Rajiv R Mishra — Principal, Sir JJ college of Architecture, University of Mumbai & Director, Directorate of Art, Government of Maharashtra. He keenly talks about the institute being the epitome of architectural evolution, and more.
On a journey
Mishra’s passage from being a professional to an educationist at such a celebrated institution can be called fluid. “The journey of getting into architecture was provoked by the fact that the city where you grew up is actually a place that helps you decide what you wish to become.”
For him, being a part of such an institute is a matter of honour. “Every era wants a change and every change has a story. It is the individual soul in us that creates a story, which people would remember for making a difference. I consider it a privilege to be an architect and it is a great feeling to get an opportunity to serve as principal of a historic and well-known institution. I took up teaching as a first choice at an early age to be able to act as an agent of change for ‘Architecture Education’.”
For this establishment to be still held in reverence is not mere feat. “Sir JJ School of Art & Industry was the first institute in Asia to start formal education in Art, Architecture and Design. It laid the foundation for growth of industrial development and was responsible for generating the best minds in all the three facets of art. The alumni have played a major role in the development scenario of our nation,” Mishra reveals.
Recalling the history, he mentions, “When Sir JJ School of Art was established in 1857, it realised that art needed directions and assistance in technology and science from Architecture School (1913) and directions of visual communication in design from school of Applied Art (1935). Thus, our campus became a knowledge centre for Art, Design and Technology for India’s industrial development era.” From an academician’s standpoint, he does have quite a few things to convey.
“As a teacher for 27 years, the institute has plans to become a deemed University under the De Novu Category and is looking forward to create a new breed of multi-disciplined and multiple talented professionals. With the emergence of new technology, the courses are being moulded to meet new challenges. Recruitment norms of new teachers and recruitment programmes need to be updated to move ahead with jet speed to meet our targets.”
Leading the way
This principal is quite clear-cut in terms of what the needs of the prestigious institute are. “My specific area has been to convince the government to adapt to changes and attract good professionals to teach. It is only through these efforts we will strive ahead.”
Working and then heading such a premier institute naturally has impacted him as a professional and a person. “By working as a professional one has to change and upgrade oneself to meet new ideologies. We learn as we grow and only then can bring change.”
Fighting the odds
Talented architects like BV Doshi, Achyut Kanvinde and Minnette de Silva have been the institute’s alumni. In recent times, other institutes are giving a tough fight. Mishra’s job profile now includes keeping the institute’s reputation afloat amidst all this. But he is still quite upbeat. “The competition creates a healthy situation thereby increasing the desire to succeed. We are striving hard to keep up with competition due to budgetary provision towards infrastructure development.”
India is undergoing a massive change. Architecture is no different. Mishra knows these pressures well and is up for anything. “The institute is gearing itself to change to meet new challenges. The institute is still considered as Mecca for go-to Institute for education in Art, Architecture & Design.”
Mishra has been heading the premier architectural institute for 10+ years and does have certain clear plans in mind which will be impactful in more than one way. “Once we are permitted to become a university, we shall bring change in pedagogy, establish ‘Innovation Lab’ and with more funds at hand. We will bring the institute to match international standards. We are sure to succeed as we have wonderful team of alumni, students and teachers to help us achieve it.” With Rajiv R Mishra leading Sir JJ college of Architecture in its march towards academic excellence, Indian architectural landscape will be the beneficiary.