From bagging the contract for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's most ambitious Rs 25,000 crore-plus plan to reinvent the Parliament building, common Central Secretariat and Central Vista, a three-kilometers-plus expanse from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate, architect Bimal Patel has always tried to keep himself incognito and avoid media attention on any project that he is currently working.
However, it would certainly interest you to note that Patel has been the Prime Minister's favourite architect since his tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat decades ago.
Once an aspired Physicist
Not many know, but the Ahmedabad-based architect once desired to be a physicist by profession and Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre was his favourite destination within the city.
Having studied at St Xavier School in Ahmedabad, Patel received his first professional degree in architecture from CEPT in 1984.
After a year of working with his father Hasmukh Patel, who was also a prominent architect, in Ahmedabad, Patel moved to Berkeley to study at the College of Environmental Design, CED. He graduated with M.Arch. and M.C.P. degrees in 1988 and a Ph.D. from the Department of City and Regional Planning in 1995.
"The thoughts on why India as a country was not being able to achieve its potential influenced me to explore urban planning which was necessary to do after architecture," Patel recalled during his interview with News18.
Architecture as his profession
One of Patel's first projects, a campus designed for The Entrepreneurship Development Institute in Ahmedabad, won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1992.
But it was the Central Vista project that had pushed him directly under a media glare.
Over the years Patel designed and built numerous architectural projects ranging from single family homes, to institutions, industrial buildings and urban redevelopment projects, including the Kankaria Lake Development and the Sabarmati Riverfront, being one of its kinds.
Patel has been conferred with numerous awards including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (1992), UN Centre for Human Settlements Award of Excellence (1998), World Architecture Award (2001) and the Prime Minister's National Award for Excellence in Urban Planning and Design (2002). He was bestowed with the Padma Shri Award in 2019.
An observer than a designer
Patel is currently serving as the president of CEPT University in Ahmedabad since 2012. The varsity focuses on understanding, designing, planning, constructing and managing human habitats.
It is said that Patel is more of an observer than a designer and this is perhaps explained by the fact that he doesn't even own a television set at home.
Following his footsteps, his wife, Ismet Khambatta, a practicing furniture designer, also prefers staying away from the limelight.
Patel says he is fortunate to grow up in a modern architecturally sound house designed by his father and that is where he had learnt how to describe a project as he would listen to his father telling visitors about the design and the concept. He still visits the house daily for lunch though it has been years since his parents passed away.