WMF Mourns the Passing of Renowned Structural Engineer Mahendra Raj
World Monuments Fund (WMF) mourns the passing of Mahendra Raj (1924–2022), one of India's most distinguished engineers, who had an illustrious career spanning over 70 years. A leading figure of post-independence modernism in India, Raj's work alongside iconic architects such as Charles Correa and Raj Rewal helped create a new architectural paradigm in the country, showcasing cutting-edge engineering combined with uniquely experimental and delicate structures. In February 2021, WMF had the honor of welcoming Mahendra Raj to say a few words during a virtual event featuring one of his designs, the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium.
Mahendra Raj (1924–2022), an eminent structural engineer in India, passed away yesterday (May 8, 2022) at the age of 97 at his home in New Delhi, India. Mahendra Raj’s long career as a structural engineer was marked by his innovative approach, which included the development a new architectural language to represent postcolonial cultural identity in post-independence India.
Considered one of the leading engineers of his generation, Raj collaborated with some of the most important architects in India, such as Charles Correa, with whom he designed Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, a municipal cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. At Patel Stadium, a 2020 World Monuments Watch site, Correa and Raj built the first cantilevered folded-plate roof in South Asia. They also collaborated on the design of the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in New York.
Raj collaborated with architect Raj Rewal on the design and construction of the Hall of Nations in Delhi, a 2018 World Monuments Watch site. The innovative concrete cast-in-situ structure was built in 22 months and inaugurated in 1972 to be a central place of the International Trade Fair. Rewal and Raj used a simple triangular shape as the basis of their organic design for a unique space that, after its construction, became the largest space frame concrete structure in the world. The Hall of Nations was, sadly, demolished in April 2017.
WMF and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, with support from the Getty Foundation, have been working since 2020 on the development of a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) for Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, which will guide the future conservation of this outstanding heritage place representative of modern Indian architecture.
The entire Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium project team is deeply moved by Mr. Raj’s passing, and offer their condolences to his family and friends, as well as to all those whose lives were touched by his visionary designs.