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Christopher Charles Benninger

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Christopher Charles Benninger

Christopher Charles Benninger
Born (1942-11-23) November 23, 1942
Hamilton, Ohio, USA
Nationality American-Indian
Awards Great Master Architect of India
Practice CCBA Pvt. Ltd.
Buildings Mahindra United World College, Suzlon One Earth, India House
Projects Royal Supreme Court, Bhutan; College of Engineering Pune, Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad
Suzlon One Earth, designed by Christopher Benninger, in Pune, Maharashtra.

Christopher Charles Benninger is an American-Indian architect and planner.

Born in Hamilton, Ohio in 1942 as the second of two children, Benninger grew up in Gainesville, Florida where his father was a Professor at the University of Florida. He studied urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and architecture at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, where he later taught (1969–72).

Benninger studied under Josep Lluis Sert and worked in his studio. He was a protégé of the noted economist Barbara Ward and a member of the Delos Symposium group, contributing articles to the journal Ekistics. He was influenced by the group's founder, Constantinos Doxiadis who led the Ekistics movement. This brought him into association with Buckminister Fuller, Arnold Toynbee, Margaret Mead and Jaquline Tyrwhitt.

On the invitation of B. V. Doshi, in 1971 he resigned from his tenured post at Harvard and shifted to Ahmedabad, India as a Ford Foundation Advisor to the Ahmedabad Educational Society, where he founded the School of Planning.[1] In 1976 he shifted to Pune, India, where he founded the Center for Development Studies and Activities.[2] In 1983 Benninger wrote the Theme Paper for the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements 1984. In 1986 he was engaged by the Asian Development Bank to author their position paper on Urban Development, arguing successfully the case for extending financial assistance to the urban development sector. Benninger is on the Board of Editors of CITIES journal (UK),[3] and on the Board of the United States Educational Foundation (Fulbright Foundation) in India. He is a Distinguished Professor at the Centre for Environmental and Planning Technology University, Ahmedabad,[4] and on the Board of Governors of the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.

While in Ahmedabad he innovated the concept of Site and Services, an approach to housing providing access to shelter via developed small plots, allowing poor families to construct their own homes, according to their means. For the World Bank and the Madras Urban Development Authority 1973 he designed over 20,000 such units in four locations, the largest being at Arambakum in Chennai. With the advent of institutional housing finance in India 1972 he created a unique neighborhood of small ground level houses for about five hundred households in Jamnagar, Gujarat. This was the first shelter program funded by the Government of India for the economically weaker section of society. In 1976–79, using funding from the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO), he built a township for low income households at Yusafguda, in Hyderabad with over two thousand houses, public amenities and shopping centres. This was the first project of the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority and provided owners with road access, street lights, storm drains, electricity and sanitary cores. Around these core facilities low income families could construct their own houses. For the World Bank and the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority, Benninger was part of a team that devised the (slum) Busti Improvement Program. This approach brought sanitation, potable water, electricity, storm drains, paved lanes with street lighting and community services to millions of low income citizens of Kolkata.


Benninger's best known architectural works are a cluster of academic and educational campuses in the mountainous region between Mumbai and Pune in India. These include the Center for Development Studies and Activities, the Mahindra United World College of India, the Samundra Institute of Maritime Studies, the YMCA International Camp, Nilshi, India, the Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies and the International School Aamby. The Centre for Life Sciences Health and Medicine in Pune is a radical departure from his earlier work.[5] Other important works are the Kochi Refineries Corporate Headquarters in Kerala, the Alliance Francaise in Ahmedabad and SOS Children's Villages in Kolkata and Bawana outside of Delhi. The new campuses for the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta and the College of Engineering, Pune are nearing completion. Benninger was recently awarded the Azim Premji University in Bangalore and the Bajaj Institute of Technological Studies in Wardha where he has built the Bajaj Science Centre.

The Mahindra United World College of India won international recognition as the recipient of the Business Week/Architectural Record Award for Excellence in the year 2000. This Award was sponsored jointly with the American Institute of Architects. Business Week called the Mahindra United World College of India one of the ten super structures of the world in the year 2000.[6] The project also won the Designer of the Year Award [7] in 1999. The Kochi Refineries Headquarters Building won the award as one of India's two best office buildings in 2005, sponsored by the Indian Architect and Builder "awards for working spaces".

Camp Managers Bungalow at YMCA International Camp, Nilshi, India
India House, studio and residence of Prof.Benninger, in Pune, Maharashtra.
Tshechu Ground or the National Ceremonial Plaza in Thimphu, Bhutan.

The YMCA International Camp, Nilshi, India won the Archies Award for the best Institutional Building 2006 and the Indian Institute of Architects Award for the Best Public Building 2006. The British Society for Design and the Architecture Plus Design journal awarded Benninger the Recognition in Design (RED) Award as the Best Architect in India in November 2006. This was the first RED award given in India. His building Samundra Institute of Maritime Studies was selected for the Indian Institute of Archietcs as the Best Public Building for the year 2008 and by the J. K. Cement Awards as the best Institution in the year 2009. It won the Institute of Structural Steel Design and Growth Award 2009 as one of the two best steel structures in India.

Benninger's planning work includes development plans for six regional capitals in Sri Lanka, three new towns in Bhutan, the Development Plans of Kalyan and Thane in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, the plans for twenty-eight urban centres in Madhya Pradesh and the Capital City of Bhutan, Thimphu. For Nepal he designed their decentralized planning methodology 1989 and for Indonesia their Shelter Sector for the Indonesian National Rural Development Program 1979-81. Benninger guided the planners of the Katenga Regional Development Authority in their design of the new economic region in Terengganu, an emerging region in the North-eastern region of Malaysia. Benninger's work in urban design, city management and town planning resulted in his Principles of Intelligent Urbanism, which guided his planning of the new capital of Bhutan.[8]

Architectural works in progress include the new campus for the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta; the Indoor Air Conditioned Stadium at Ahmedabad; The Governance Center at Hyderabad and second campus of KIAMS at Pune.Suzlon One Earth, of the Suzlon Wind Energy Company, India House, new studios for Christopber Charles Benninger Architects were completed recently.

The studio in Bhutan has completed Tshechu Ground, a major ceremonial plaza and pavilion for the annual National Buddhist festival and the coronation site for the Fifth King;and the Supreme Court of Bhutan; and the first four of the ten Secretariat Ministries that will form the National Secretariat Complex are under construction. The Bhutan Studio is also designing the new UN HOUSE in Bhutan.

List of Projects (Chronology)

  • 1972 - 1973 The Bhanuben Parekh Villa, Bhavnagar, Gujarat
  • 1972 The Low-income Housing Township, 500 houses, Jamnagar, Gujarat
  • 1973 - 1975 The Site and Services Shelter Programme, 20000 houses, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  • 1973 - 1976 The Theological (Alliance Francaise) Library, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
  • 1973 - 1975 SOS Children Village, Bawana, New Delhi
  • 1975 - 1978 SOS Children Village, Kolkata, West Bengal
  • 1975 - 1978 Yusafguda low-income township, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
  • 1980 - 1982 Development Plan for the city and region of Jaffna, Sri Lanka
  • 1980 - 1990 Thane Development Management System Report, Maharashtra
  • 1980 - 1990 Kalyan Development Management System Report, Maharashtra
  • 1980 - 1990 28 Urban Centers, Madhya Pradesh
  • 1983 - 1992 Galle Town structure plan, Sri Lanka
  • 1986 - 1989 Center for Development Studies and Activities, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 1988 - 1989 Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayaka Gana Hostel, Lohegaon, Pune
  • 1989 - 1990 Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayaka Gana Center, Dapodi, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 1989 - 1990 Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayaka Gana Girls' Hostel, Vishrantwadi, Pune
  • 1990 - 1991 Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayaka Gana Boys' Hostel, Wardha, Maharashtra
  • 1990 - 1991 Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayaka Gana Boys' Hostel, Aurangabad, MH
  • 1994 - 1996 Krushi Vigyan Kendra, Jalna, Maharashtra
  • 1996 - Nagarjuna Vihara and Institute(Nagloka), Nagpur, Maharashtra
  • 1996 - 1998 Library Extension, Gokhale Institute of Political Sciences, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 1996 - 1998 Institute of Social Science, New Delhi
  • 1996 - 1998 The Mahindra United World College of India, Mulshi, Maharashtra
  • 1997 - 2002 Corporate Headquarters, Kochi Refineries Limited, Kochi, Kerala
  • 1998 - 2002 YMCA International Campsite, Nilshi, Maharashtra
  • 1998 - 1999 Quest International School, Alibaug, Maharashtra
  • 1998 - 2000 Trailokya Bauddha Mahasangha Sahayaka Gana Girls' Hostel, Nagpur, Maharashtra
  • 1999 - 2000 Student Village, Center for Development Studies and Activities, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 1999 - The Directorate of Town and Country Planning, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, (Competition Winner, Under Construction)
  • 2001 - 2003 Basant Bahar Housing, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
  • 2001 - 2003 Centurion hotel, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2001 - 2004 Center for Life Sciences Health and Medicine(previously CNDCM), Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2001 - 2002 Thimpu Structure Plan, Bhutan
  • 2001 - 2004 TAIN Square, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2003 Structure Plan for Gelephug, Damphu and Samtshi, Bhutan
  • 2003 Urban design of the Dzong Precinct, Thimpu, Bhutan
  • 2004 - 2007 Samundra Institute of Maritime Studies, Lonavala, Maharashtra
  • 2004 - 2005 Ashoka Primary School, Nasik, Maharashtra
  • 2005 - 2009 Suzlon One Earth Global Headquarters, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2005 - 2013 Royal Supreme Courts Complex, Thimphu, Bhutan
  • 2005 - 2008 National Ceremonial Plaza, Thimphu, Bhutan
  • 2006 - 2010 Bajaj IT Tower, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2006 - 2011 Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, West Bengal (Phase 1)
  • 2006 - 2008 Aamby Valley International School, Lonavala, Maharashtra (Phase 1)
  • 2006 - 2008 India House, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2007 - 2009 Mirchandani Office Building, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2007 - 2013 UN House, Thimphu, Bhutan
  • 2007 - 2009 Sandhya Vakil House, Panvel
  • 2007 College of Engineering Pune - Master Plan
  • 2008 - 2010 Bajaj Science Educational Centre, Wardha, Maharashtra
  • 2008 - 2013 Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2008 - Life Care Hospital and Research Centre, Udgir, Maharashtra
  • 2009 - Lodha Belmondo, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2009 - 2010 Structure Plan for Denchi, Bhutan
  • 2009 - 2012 Academic Building, College of Engineering, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2009 - 2012 Girls' Hostel, College of Engineering, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2009 - Bajaj Institute of Technology, Wardha, Maharashtra
  • 2010 - Bajaj Management College, Nagpur, Maharashtra
  • 2010 - Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, Karnataka
  • 2010 - MBA College, Sandip Foundation, Nashik, Maharashtra
  • 2011 - New Era High School, Panchgani, Maharashtra
  • 2011 - Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh (Phase 1A)
  • 2011 - 2013 Forbes Marshall Industrial Campus, Chakan, Pune (Phase 1)
  • 2011- Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, West Bengal (Phase 2)
  • 2012 - Pune International Centre, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2013 - Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh (Phase 1B)
  • 2013 - NTTF, Katpadi, Tamil Nadu
  • 2013 - Environmental Centre at Empress Garden, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2013 - Krohne Marshall Industrial Expansion, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2013 - KEM Hospital redevelopment, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2013 - Boys' Hostel, College of Engineering, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2014 - Redevelopment of Indrayani B, Pune, Maharashtra
  • 2014 - Forbes Marshall Industrial Campus, Chakan, Pune (Phase 2)

Initial Years in India

Professor Benninger, is widely regarded as one of India’s foremost creative architects, and is respected as a leading urban and regional planner. He has been registered with the Council of Architecture since 1976, and is a Fellow of both the Institute of Town Planners, India and the Indian Institute of Architects. He is a member of the Regional Science Association, India, the Institute of Indian Geographers, the Pune International Centre, the World Society of Ekistics, the American Planning Association, the American Institute of Architects, and the India Habitat Centre. He is a PIO cardholder, and an Indian taxpayer. Professor Benninger first came to India in the mid-sixties as a Fulbright Scholar to carry out research at Balkrishna Doshi’s School of Architecture.

Under Sanat Mehta’s Housing Ministry in Gujarat, 1972, he designed India’s first Economically Weaker Section township [in Jamnagar] funded by HUDCO. He designed two SOS Children’s Villages (Kolkata and Bawana) in 1973 and 1975, and the Alliance Francaise in Ahmedabad in that period. In 1976 he moved to Pune where he founded the Centre for Development Studies and Activities [CDSA], whose well-known campus he designed in the mid-1980s.

Beginning in 1976 he worked with the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority to design their first Low Income Housing Township at Yousufguda that shelters more than two thousand low-income households. From 1974 to 1978 he designed the Madras Metropolitan Development Authority’s pioneering Site and Services Programme, under which more than fifteen thousand shelter units were created with the participation of owner-builders from the city’s slums. Under UNO funding, 1979–82, he prepared the development plans for six cities in Sri Lanka. In the 1980s professor Benninger prepared Integrated Rural Development Programmes for Ratnagiri, Etawah, Goa, Almora and many other districts with the GOI, UNICEF and local district governments.

Under World Bank funding he has prepared development plans for the cities of Kalyan and Thane [1986-90] through the BMRDA; studies and recommendations for the planning of twenty-eight urban centres in Madhya Pradesh [1988-92], and other plans for Indian cities.

While the Executive Director of the Centre for Development Studies and Activities he was a Member of the University Faculty Senate and on the Board of University Teaching and Research [BUTR] of the Pune University; on the Bureau of Indian Standards Expert’s Group on Urban Planning, Architecture and Construction Norms and Standards; on several HUDCO policy committees, and he carried out research and the preparation of policy papers for the Planning Commission, the Ministries of Rural Development, Women and Children [preparing the Integrated District Development Programme, GOI, funded by UNICEF], Home Affairs [Tribal Development]. He has advised the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the UNCHS [Habitat]; the UNFAO, UNICEF and the Ford Foundation regarding development initiatives in India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries.

He has prepared the Master Plan of Thimphu, Bhutan [2001-03] for the Royal Government of Bhutan, and the urban design for the Trashichhoe Dzong capitol complex. He has prepared development plans for Gelephu, Samtse and Damphu and planned the new town of Denchi in Bhutan.

As an expert advisor to the UNCHS [Habitat] Professor Benninger wrote the Theme Paper for the Seventh United Nations Commission Meeting on Human Settlements [1983], and in 1986 he wrote the Asian Development Bank’s Draft Urban Investment Policy. He was a Member of the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council [TIFAC], Ministry of Science and Technology from 1988 onwards. He remains a Distinguished Professor at CEPT University in Ahmedabad and Chairman of the Board of the Centre for Development Studies and Activities, Pune and is an Honorary Trustee of the Pune International Centre. Professor Benninger served on the Bilateral Board of Directors of the United States Educational Foundation [Fulbright Foundation] in India for three terms.


In April 2010 Professor Benninger was awarded the Architect for the Decade Award his contribution to the profession of architecture over that period. Over the past four years, on three occasions, the Indian Institute of Architects has honored him with the award of Best Public Building of the Year for his designs of the Centre for Life Sciences, Health and Medicine, the YMCA International Camp, Nilshi, India and for the Samundra Institute of Maritime Studies. The design for Suzlon One Earth has been honored by the Architects, Engineers, Surveyors Association of Pune as the Best Architectural Work in the City in 2009 and it was recently named the Most Sustainable Building in India, in a national competition. It is a LEED Platinum and Five Star Teri Griha building.Christopher Benninger is currently the sixth winner in India of the Golden Architect Award for Lifetime Achievement (2006) that was conferred in May 2007 by the A+D and Spectrum Foundation.[9] Over the past seventeen years, six Indian architects have been honored with the Great Master's Award,[10] and in 2007 Professor Benninger became the seventh awardee. Over several years he was recognised as one of the top ten architects in India by Construction World Magazine.[11] His firm, Christopher Charles Benninger Architects, has a team of thirty-five professionals with studios in Pune and Thimphu, where he is designing the new Capital Complex. He has associated a group of technical consultants in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune in the areas of structural, services, landscape and interior design. CCBA offers comprehensive architectural services from design through supervision. In recognition of his contributions to the architectural and planning professions in India, Christopher Charles Benninger has been honored as the first recipient of the (RED) Recognition of Excellence in Design Award (2006). This was conferred by the Royal Society of Designers and Architecture Plus Design journal in India on an Industrial Designer, on an Interior Designer and on an architect.


On 9 May 2011, at the Center for Architecture in Manhattan, an event, sponsored by the American Institute of Architects, was held for the release of Letters to a Young Architect written by Christopher Benninger.

Professor Benninger’s book, Letters to a Young Architect, was amongst the Top Ten Best Selling Non-fiction Books for eighteen running weeks in 2012, and was recently published in Gujarati and translated into a Chinese edition, published in China. A Malayalam edition is under preparation. It is the first Indian architectural book to appear as an e-book edition on Kindle, and is sold worldwide by Amazon through the American publishers Createspace. It was judged the “Best Architectural Book of the Year: 2012.” Benninger’s writings appear in the Royal Institute of British Architects’ publication, Urban Design: A Global Perspective where he authored the chapter on INDIA; in Timeless Inspirator, edited by Raghunath Mashelkar and in many other books on India. His serial articles on Pune’s history and evolving urban form appeared in the TOI’s Pune Mirror in 2010. Articles by and about Professor Benninger appear in Business Week [USA], CITIES [UK], Ekistics [Greece] Habitat International [UK], DOMUS, Spazio-e-Societe [Italy], Zoo [UK], Mimar: Architecture and Development [UK], Architectural Record [USA] and AIArchitect [USA], PLANNING [USA], Urban Design [UK] and in more than thirty magazines and journals in India. He has been on the Board of Editors of CITIES, a leading professional journal in UK for several decades. Benninger's work can be found in other books such as The Urban Fringe in Indian Cities (2011); Timeless Inspirator (2010); Economics, Development and the Quest for Alternatives (1997); Politics of Modern Maharashtra (2000); and Conflict Resolution Through Non-Violence (1990).

See also


  1. ^ Lang, Jon T., A concise history of modern architecture in India, 2002, Page 45
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "AESA HONOUR FOR BENNINGER". Times of India. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  10. ^
  11. ^

External links

  • Official website
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