[Photoset on Flickr] These are the moments when Facebook comes in handy. I got a notification that one of my undergrad juniors had tagged me on a photo album. Generally when this happens my heart sinks as my retro ugly mug is broadcast to everyone on my current friends list (that’s why Tag Review rocks) but this time it was a pleasant surprise. Back in, what seems another lifetime, architecture college I led a team of my classmates in the Louis Kahn Trophy for the National Association of Schools of Architecture (NASA) annual conference. The brief is to document a historical structure in its entireity notably from the perspective of architectural drawings. This was seen as a way of creating architectural records for structures that potentially didn’t have any including laying them out from perspective of their historical, social, and cultural context.
Although Jejuri has tremendous significance among those living in Maharashtra, even the Wikipedia doesn’t have much information online let alone detailed architectural drawings. So you can imagine the enormity of our task when we picked Jejuri…in early 1998. As we expected, there were no drawings on record so we made couple of visits to the temple town, stayed for a week each time, and literally measured every square inch of the temple complex. We were the source of puzzlement and wonder among devotees who often mistook us for a film crew thanks to our large circular measuring tape and hippie-like tattered jeans. We brought those measurements along with thousands of sketches back to our college where, with the help of a large team of classmates, stayed overnight after college hours for more than a month creating these drawings. Of course, we receive no college credit for this work and was done purely for altruistic and architectural cred reasons.
There are many memories associated with this project that made me friends among my college mates that I wasn’t close to before and helped me learn many things about architecture and historic preservation. More importantly, the camaraderie that we enjoyed either during the visits to this rural part of Maharashtra or the long sleepless nights we spent in our studios listening to hard rock and old Hindi songs in equal measure crouched over the drawing boards was the thing I remember the most. Now, I regret being a teetotaler at the time.
Our efforts were rewarded in part that we won a special mention at the national level for our work; the first accolade for our 8-year-old college that led to several national trophies at subsequent NASA competitions.