En Route to IITM 2.0


by Abhinay Reddy

IIT Madras had its first master plan drafted around five decades ago. It was during the tenure of our first director, Prof. Sengupto that the plan was commissioned to Mr. T. J. Manickam (the then Principal of the School of Town and Country Planning). Since then, we have long exceeded the intended population of 5000 people. This warranted a new master plan and the task was taken up the renowned firm S.T.U.P. (the chief architects in the construction of Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad, the new hostels in IIM-A and NIFT Bangalore). Several interesting proposals were put forth and the following is a sneak peak of what is to come :

1. A jogging track around the lake : The ‘lake’ does not attract footfall otherwise. The word has been synonymous to ‘disappointment’ ever since we first saw it and the master planners clearly thought that something needs to be done about this static water body, or rather around it. They have proposed a jogging track around the whole perimeter of the lake, to try and draw the crowd away from the stadium.

Why do we care? It could be a change of venue for joggers and the sight of a water body, albeit a low aesthetic appeal, is always relaxing.

2. Revamping of the workshop area : The space utility in the current workshop area is not efficient at all. Lack of any pathway in between has effectively made it a solitary wall in between the main road and the place where Campus Café was located earlier. The proposal calls for a total restructuring with an additional car parking lot adjoining the workshop area (with a capacity of around 400 cars).

Why do we care? It will kill the monotony of the place. A corridor here and there might help the place look less like a horror movie set, but alas its function will remain the same – intensively training us for 3-6 hours a week, in khaki clothes.

Workshop 1961
A picture of the Central Workshop in 1961 - gives an idea of how much things have changed, and how much they will change in the future.

3. A 5 Acre Solar Panel area : Something as grand as this is generally treated with a lot of skepticism, and rightly so. A generation of residents from Alakananda were led to believe that a solar water panel in their hostel was always round the corner, but the harsh truth is that we reside on a spherical planet. But this is planned for the whole institute and with the power capacity being 1 MW, as the sustainable beings of the generation we need to welcome this with optimism.

Why do we care? It is a renewable energy source, and we can subsequently advocate for air conditioned hostels and messes. Coming to mess…

4. A New Food Court with Guestrooms : This has been brought up for consideration next to the current Himalaya mess (the ground will be leveled) and the impetus is to have cafeterias and eateries inside, also including guestrooms. One can only hope it has better food.

Why do we care? Simply because we want more food, different food, and better food. The more the merrier. And the most important point in the plan –

5. A bigger and better C.R.C. : One never forgets the days when one had to rush in to C.R.C. classrooms from the mess, to attend that one ID1100 class in the afternoon (a dreadful timetable would generally have a workshop slot followed by this). Literally hundreds of students were made to sit tightly squeezed next to each other where the only way to vent out frustration was to bang the desks every once a while, which made us look like our primate cousins, as Prof. Kamakoti (C.S.E.), was kind enough to point out one day. This one is proposed to be a huge, air conditioned, 7 storey building. The future bodes well.

Why do we care? Mainly, the air conditioning. Comfortable seating too. One thing with any new venture is that state of the art facilities will be provided, so we just need to extrapolate the possibilities.

It will take more than 8 years to execute the master plan completely. So that means a current fresher would have to do a B.Tech + M.Sc + M.B.A or Dual Degree + Ph.D to see the dream campus (though that should be the last reason for one to pursue further education here). Most of us can assume that we will be safely out of campus till then. But as well-wishers to our alma mater, we should be happy that such initiatives are being taken. One day when we come back, this might as well be that utopian place we always hoped for.

Editors’ Note : The above information has been procured from the presentation made by chief architect of the IIT-M Master plan during the CEA 2012 Inaugural Function.

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