The Master Architect : Ar. Shivdatt Sharma

The Master Architect : Ar. Shivdatt Sharma

Introducing Ar. S.D. Sharma is like doing a script of a motion picture. Torn through the partition days, virtually with no resources Ar. Sharma enrolled himself in the team of Architects in the Capitol project of Chandigarh. By the dint of his shear hard work, he rose to assist Le Corbusier and P.Jeanneret in the projects specially the Museum in Chandigarh. His creative potential was evident right from the beginning his thesis was considered exemplary by the jury. The fact that Le Corbusier’s museum was handed over to him for completion speaks of the person’s potential, drive and enthusiasm for the built form.

His popularity amongst his contemporaries is evident from the many certificates and interesting notes which have been written to him over the past almost 50 years of his career. P.Jeanneret while introducing him for his higher studies in Milan (Italy) described the man as “Architect of rare qualities who understands deeply the meaning of built environment”. Dr. M.S.Randhawa, i.e. – the first Chief Commissioner of Chandigarh very aptly said “Ar. S.D. Sharma assisted Le Corbusier in designing the building of Museum & Art Gallery, Chandigarh. He also has independently designed the Museum of Evolution of Life. These buildings have an excellent design and abundantly show the creative talent of Ar. S.D. Sharma.

The first Chief Architect of Chandigarh Mr. M.N. Sharma, in his appreciation letter stated that “I find him the most versatile person working in the Chandigarh project. It was due to his extra ordinary ability as a designer that Mr. S.D. Sharma was chosen to assist Le Corbusier and P.Jeanneret. He is utterly devoted to his profession and has a keen desire to learn more and more”.

In a lighter tone Mrs. UE Chouwdhury penned a verse in praise of which conferred on him for architect “Sharma’s a wonderful man, he should be featured in Span, his projects are great, his tastes is first Rate and he is never been an also ran”.

While as Chief Architect in the Department of Space, Mr.R.D.John, the Chief Engineer wrote “Ar.S.D.Sharma has created certain works of outstanding quality of which the department of ISRO is proud of. Apart from being a competent professional, he is an excellent person to work with”. Dr.Ar.S.S.Bhatti, Ex. Principal CCA write poet and painter, while mentioning the credits described the versatility of the architect as follows; Sharma’s design output as a government architect is quite easily the most prolific which alone should be enough to establish him as an architect of distinction. Sharma, however, went much beyond this limit of prolificacy and created some extremely refreshing designs which speak very high of his innovative ability, sensitivity and professional acumen as an architect.

In the citation of IIA Snowcem award which was conferred on him by the President of IIA, for EXCELLANCE IN URBAN ARCHITECTURE, 1995 defined “as architecture which avoids all clichés and carry forward the spirit of modern movement”.

While conferring upon him the J K Award, for the Architect of the Year 1998 the jury commented “the building of Carmel Convent, the Multi Purpose Hall is a fine example of learning function, aesthetics and structural stability and permanence)’.

In an article in ARCHITECTURE BUILDER, titled “Hybrid Reality” author Sarayu Ahuja, described the approach of Ar. Sharma “as spirit of a student- a seeker-to build for the situation with no preconceived images, a person who believes in evolution not revolution, a subtle and not radical change”. Nonika Singh an eminent journalist (The Tribune daily), in her article says “AN ARCHITECT WHO ISN’T COUGHT IN A TIME WRAP”. Rather his buildings in step with the times speak lucidly epitomizing richness of space and not mere material”.Patwant Singh, the editor of the famous DESIGN MAGAZINE honored Sharma as “MY MOST FAVORITE ARCHITECT”.


In discussion (from right): Ar. M.N. Sharma (Chief Architect, CHD), Mr. P.L. Verma, Mr. Toki ( Suprintendant Engg.), Mr. M.N. Thapar, Dr. M.S. Randhawa & Ar. S.D. Sharma.

Adopted and Extended the philosophy of Modernism by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeaneret an idiom of a hybrid thinking. The pure architecture and rational thoughts, building for the purpose these are meant with no superficialities, pure and honest expression, glorifying brick and cement chosen as versatile materials, to depict architectural expression for a very noble-aesthetic reasons.
This was the defining formative period of Sharma’s career, where he learnt the art and craft of Indian modernism in the very laboratory where it was being developed. Learning how to design for the climate, using local, readily available materials, with absolute honesty and directness were lessons that were to stay with Sharma through his long career to come. In this sense, the Chandigarh Capital Project Office in Sector 19, which Sharma, much later would come back to conserve and preserve, was the true school of architecture of his career.


Ar. S.D. Sharma with Prof. U.R. Rao. Prof. Dhawan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research, Prof.Yashpal, Ar SD Sharma and Joint Sect. Department of space

For Sharma, working as Chief Architect for ISRO was an exciting opportunity to explore and design major campuses in different parts of the country; a very satisfying chapter of his career. The diverse locations of projects necessitated finding appropriate local ways of working, which ranged from working with completely indigenous material and skills to deploying totally prefabricated components in isolated, island locations such as Car-Nicobar. Professional expertise included exposure to sophisticated services catering to the complex needs of space technology, use of different kinds of power and energy, magnetic shielding, creation of clean areas, precision control of humidity, temperature, noise, vibrations, etc.

After taking voluntary early retirement from ISRO, Shivdatt Sharma returned to Chandigarh to set up his own practise. In private practise, Sharma has had the opportunity to design a diverse range of projects from a small Bamboo Museum to massive science and health institutes. He has done both public and private projects and has encountered the patronage of clients with very limited budgets and those with more lavish. Throughout, Sharma had maintained his affiliation with the dictates of an Indian modernism, which exploring a fuller range of possibilities in dialogue with the desires and expectations of the clients.

– Chairman, Indian Institute of Architects Bangalore Chapter (1976-79).
– Advisor, Architecture and Planning, Punjab University, Chandigarh (1997-2000).
– Fellow Member of Indian Institute of Architects.
– Member of Council of Architecture & Indian Institute of Interior Designers.
– Member of Board of Studies in Architecture. Punjab University, Chandigarh.
– Experts Panel for “Housing” appointed by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (1973).
– Consultant Haryana Urban Development Authority (1986-90).

– Selection by International Panel, Govt. of Nigeria to design two Neighborhood Centers – Area B1- Abuja. New capital of Nigeria.
– Appointment as an architect at Greater London County Council 1966.
– Smith, Hinchman & Gryills Associates, 1967, USA.
– Abdol-Aziz Mirza Farmanfarmaian & Associates Tehran – 1973.

– Award from Chandigarh Administration (1968) for the work done for Museum & Art Gallery after his death designed by Le Corbusier.
– Distinguished Service Certificate by Indian Space Research Organization (1975).
– Award from the first Chief Commissioner of Chandigarh, Dr. M.S. Randhawa. In the presence of Mr. M.N. Sharma, Chief Architect, Chandigarh.
– Awarded for Excellence in Urban Architecture by the Indian Institute of Architects for the year 1995.
– Honored by Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh for designing their Campus (1994).
– Architect of the Year Award – 1998 by J.K Cement.
– Certificate of commendation on the Independence Day presented by The Governor of Chandigarh Administration for Outstanding Services Rendered in the Field of Architecture (1998).
– Awarded “Commendation Award” for convention centre at (SGPGI, Lucknow) – 2007 by ARCHI DESIGN.
– Awarded “Babu Rao Mhatre Gold Medal 2001” by Indian Institute of Architects, for lifetime contribution in the Field of Architecture.

– Honored by Institute of Bio Resource Technology, Palampur for planning of the Lab Complex on the Foundation day of CSIR on 25th Sept. 2000.
– Awarded “Gold Medal” for outstanding contribution and praiseworthy achievements in the Field of Architecture 2008 by Friendship Forum of India.
– Golden Architect Award, India (Architecture + design & CERA awards 2013).
– Great Master Award, India (JK CEMENT).
– Monograph foreword by A.r. BV Doshi and author by Vikramaditya Prakash published on works and professional life published by Mapin Publishing, Ahmedabad, Launched by the Advisor to UT on 5 September 2012.

– Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd., Delhi.
– Group Housing Schemes, Delhi & Panchkula.
– Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (SGPGI), Phase II, Lucknow.
– Proposed EDC building at IT Park, Chandigarh.
– Proposed IT Park at Panchkula.
– Auditorium complex – 2008 Punjab University, Chandigarh.

– Born November 24, 1931
– National Diploma in Architecture, 1959.
– Higher Studies (Post Graduation) Milan, Italy (Italian Scholarship), 1965-66.
– Architect in Chandigarh Project 1963-73. (Worked with Le Corbusier & Pierre Jeanneret).
– Chief Architect Department of Space, Government of India, 1973-79.
– In Practice Since 1980 to Till Date.