The world lost a great visionary and humanitarian this month when Charles Correa died on June 16 at age 84. The India­-raised, U.S.-­trained architect pulled from multiple design ideologies and Eastern and Western building traditions to create a unique vernacular of his own, which was given glorious form in buildings, housing projects, and urban plans around the world.

In an age of starchitects, Correa avoided ego and heroics and focused instead on tackling the difficulties of housing a growing and impoverished population in his home country and on the aesthetic challenges of imagining a new building style for India that was both modern and mindful of the past. His wide range of accomplishments include the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at the Sabarmati Ashram in Ashmedabad, the British Council in Delhi, the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York, and housing for Delhi, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad.

Correa improved the lives of people who reside in or experience his buildings and also the many students he taught and mentored over the years as a visiting scholar at MIT, Harvard, and other schools. Those of us lucky enough to have had him as a professor were the beneficiaries of a rare combination of wit, wisdom, genius, and profound compassion. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” I don’t think Correa ever needed to find himself, but the more he focused his life on the service of others, the more spectacular his work became.


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