Who is Bimal Patel? Man behind new Parliament design

The man entrusted with the new Parliament's design has been behind several projects during Modi's tenure as Gujarat Chief Minister
Last Updated : 25 May 2023, 14:28 IST

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"Parliament building is a symbol of our republic," wrote Bimal Patel, the architect behind the new Parliament, slated to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28.

In The Indian Express piece he authored, the Gujarat-based 61-year-old spoke after a request for a redesign had been made in the Lok Sabha. He asserted, "Most people would agree that inadequate as the Parliament building might be for meeting objectively measurable functions, as a symbolic structure, it is robust. The memories it evokes, the hopes it kindles and the meanings it embodies, could not be better suited for its function."

Patel - noting that a similar request had been made during the UPA regime - eventually contradicts the earlier stance saying, "Perhaps we need to make a clean break, untether ourselves from the past and more fully embrace the future."

That is the thought Patel brought to his design and explained to PTI why he went with a triangular shape, saying "The new Parliament building is designed in a triangular shape since it sits on a triangular plot and has three main spaces -- Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and a Central Lounge. Also, triangles are sacred geometries in various religions and cultures of the country."

He elaborated, "In the Lok Sabha chamber, we have used the national bird Peacock as its theme, in Rajya Sabha chamber we have used the national flower Lotus as its theme and in Central Lounge courtyard we have used the national tree Banyan as its theme."

The man entrusted with the new Parliament's design has been behind several projects during Modi's tenure as Gujarat's Chief Minister, and their collaborative streak has now reached the heart of the nation's capital.

So, who is Bimal Patel?

Bimal Patel is a doctorate in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

He designed the Swarnim Sankul - a complex of office boxes in Gandhinagar, close to the Central Vista of the legislative building in 2011.

Patel is also the man behind the ongoing Kashi Vishwanath corridor in Varanasi, restoring the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, and developing the Mumbai Port Trust.

He studied at St Xaviers, Loyola Hall, and then went to the Center for Environmental Planning and Technology, CEPT.

Patel's work has garnered him the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements' Award of Excellence in 1998, the World Architecture Award in 2001, as well as the Prime Minister’s National Award for Excellence in Urban Planning and Design in 2006. He received the Padma Shri in 2019.

He is also the President of CEPT.

All in the family - Patel's start

Bimal Patel's career began in the mid-1980s with father Hasmukh Patel who was also an architect and the man behind the Gujarat High Court. He received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1992, becoming the youngest to do so, for his work on the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India in Bhat, Ahmedabad.

Patel also designed the new IIM Ahmedabad campus in 2001.

The Print, however, reported a former Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) official saying that Patel's "practice received a big boost from his proximity to Surendra Patel, a former Rajya Sabha BJP MP who was twice the chairman of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) between 1996 to 1997 and 1998 to 2005, and a close associate of Narendra Modi."

Patel was handed the Sabarmati Riverfront project, the centrepiece of Modi's Gujarat Model in 2014. He was also in charge of the Kankaria Lake Waterfront projects.

The ex-AUDA official, however, added that Patel's community and other ties aside, there is no denying that very few in the country have the resources to take on projects of such scale, as he does.

How much is Patel getting?

Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said Patel's firm will get Rs 229.75 crore for consultancy services which includes preparing the master plan for the project, encompassing designs, landscape, cost estimation, plans to integrate traffic as well as parking facilities.

New Parliament, old fights

As Modi gears up to inaugurate the new Parliament building, Patel is among the invitees though at least 20 parties plan to boycott the event, clamouring for the President's right to be the one inaugurating it.

The NDA has slammed this stance as an "affront" to democratic ethos and Patel's words in a Scroll interview - "Central Vista will play an important role in defining new India, "appear to be falling deaf on the ears that matter most.

Published 25 May 2023, 10:30 IST

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