For master architect Bimal Patel, the ambitious Central Vista project is not the first task he has on his hands. The urban planner and academic has been the face behind several mega-projects across the country, including Kashi Vishwanath Dham in Varanasi, Sabarmati Riverfront Development in Ahmedabad and Jagannath Temple in Puri.
Patel is an architect, urban planner and academic who has crossed disciplinary, professional and institutional boundaries to explore the ways in which architecture, urbanism and urban planning can enrich the lives of people in Indian cities.
He is President of CEPT University in Ahmedabad and heads HCP Design Planning and Management Private Limited, an architecture, planning and project management firm.
Apart from these historical projects, HCP Design’s work profile says that many of the recent major urban projects in Gujarat’s cities involve the services of Patel and his company.
Be it Central Vista of Gandhinagar, multiple riverside parks in Ahmedabad, a walled urban revitalization plan in Ahmedabad, a transit zone of Ahmedabad or a performing arts center in Ahmedabad, Patel’s company is involved in all these projects.
Likewise, Aga Khan Academy of Hyderabad, Amul Dairy of Mumbai, Container Terminal of Chennai, architectural design of IIT Jodhpur and many other such urban structures constructed in parts of the country have some architectural contributions from Patel and his company.
Bimal received a degree in architecture from the Center of Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad in 1984. He received a master’s degree in Architecture and Urban Planning in 1988 and a PhD in Urban and Regional Planning in 1995 from the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1996, he founded Environmental Planning Collaborative, a non-profit advisory and policy research and advocacy organization. Since 2012, he also leads the CEPT University as President.
His work has won numerous awards, including the Padma Shri in 2019, one of the highest civilian honors bestowed by the president.
Since Patel won the design competition for the Central Vista Project, Patel has been criticized by the opposition, with liberals labeling him as “Modi’s architect”.
However, Patel’s growth seems to have coincided with the rise of Modi, from Gujarat to Delhi. The 1995 CG Road project fell into Patel’s lap after being approved in pre-Modi years by senior BJP leader and then chairman of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority Surendra Patel. Patel then brought Bimal Patel on board for the Sabarmati riverfront project. Modi was impressed with his work and had him redevelop Lake Kankaria.