Brinda Somaya is an architect and urban conservationist. Upon completion of her Bachelor of Architecture from Mumbai University and her Master of Arts from Smith College in Northampton, MA, U.S.A. She started her firm Somaya and Kalappa Consultants (SNK) in 1978 in Mumbai, India. In May 2012 she was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, Smith College. In 2014 she was awarded the Indian Institute of Architects – Baburao Mhatre Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement and was also nominated for the arcVision Prize. In 2016 she was appointed as the Chairperson of the Board of Governors, School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada – an Institute of National Importance. In 2017 she joined the Board of the Lafargeholcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, Zurich, Switzerland. Presently she is the A.D. White Professor-at-large at Cornell University, U.S.A.
Over four decades she has merged architecture, conservation and social equity in projects ranging from institutional campuses and rehabilitation of an earthquake-torn village to the restoration of an 18th century Cathedral, showing that progress and history need not be at odds. Her philosophy: ‘the Architect’s role is that of guardian – hers is the conscience of the built and un-built environment.’ This belief underlines her work that spans large corporate, industrial and institutional campuses and extends to public spaces, which she has rebuilt and sometimes reinvented as pavements, parks and plazas. Master-planning and building design of multiple corporate and educational campuses has become one of her areas of expertise. Some of these award-winning campuses include Tata Consultancy Services, Banyan Park, Mumbai; Nalanda International School, Vadodara; and Zensar Technologies, Pune. Her firm has won the competition for the `Restoration and Upgradation of the historic Louis Kahn Buildings of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A)
Brinda Somaya is a Member of the National Advisory Board of NCSHS (National Centre for Safety of Heritage Structures) 2014 under the Aegis of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (Government of India) IIT-Madras. As a member of the Committee of `Environmental Impact Assessment of New Construction Projects for `Ministry of Environment & Forests’ Government of India, the Mumbai Urban Heritage Conservation Committee, and Mumbai’s Initiative for the Protection and Improvement of Streets and Public Spaces, Brinda Somaya has been actively involved in participating in her country’s and city’s development. She was also on the IAWA board of Advisors (International Archives of Women in Architecture), U.S.A. and Founder Trustee of the HECAR Foundation which has brought out several publications on Heritage and Architecture and also chaired a conference & organized a seminal exhibition on the Work of Women Architects with a focus on South Asia in Mumbai. In addition `The Hecar Foundation has brought out several books/documents such as `An Emancipated Place’: Women in Architecture 2000+, `Silent Sentinels’ Traditional Architecture of Coorg, `The Cathedral Schools Portfolio, `The Mumbai Esplanade Project’, `Vanishing Homes of India’ which documents one Photographer’s T.S.N. Nagarajan’s memorable journey across the country in his quest for century-old homes and fading lifestyles and the Sindhnamah Book. With MAPIN Publishing and the HECAR Foundation she has brought out a book “Brinda Somaya – Works & Continuities” covering four decades of her practice. In January 2020 she has chaired and organized an international conference and exhibition on Women in Design 2020+ in Mumbai.
Over the years, she has won numerous international and national awards. Brinda Somaya won the UNESCO Asia Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation ”Award of Merit for Malabari Memorial Hall, Seva Sadan Society, Mumbai in 2020, the “Award of Distinction for the Vikram Sarabhai Library Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad in 2019”, “Honourable Mention for Rajabai Clock Tower and University of Mumbai Library Building in 2018” and “Award of Merit for the Restoration of the St. Thomas’ Cathedral in Mumbai in 2004.” She is also a Leading European Architects Forum award winner for the new Nalanda Schools Campus in Baroda in 2006. She was the first woman to have won the Wienerberger Golden Architect Award for lifetime achievement – a peer award in 2007. A mention was awarded to Brinda Somaya by the UIA (International Union of Architects) Sgoutas Prize for alleviation of poverty for her Bhuj Village Project in 2008. Two of her projects were also nominated for the Aga Khan award. She was chosen as one of the 100 GLOBAL.
PUBLIC∙INTEREST∙DESIGN persons working at the intersection of design and service globally in 2013.
Brinda Somaya has delivered analytical and critical talks as well as presented papers in India and abroad on her work – and other connected subjects. She has given lectures in the U.S.A, U.K., Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka & India and her work has been exhibited in the USA, UK & Japan. She has served as an Examiner & Jury Member in India & Abroad.