Museums India

Japanese architect Maki chosen for Patna Museum, despite jury’s recommendation

Indian government authorities say Foster’s firm was “a close second”

Rendering of the design for the new Patna Museum by Maki and Associates with Opolis

The £45m Patna Museum in India is to be designed by the Japanese architect Maki and Associates, despite the international jury’s initial recommendation for the London-based architect Norman Foster.

A government statement released on 15 February explained: “After deliberating as per the pre-set evaluation criteria including the technical and financial evaluation, the winning design selected was that of the internationally known Maki and Associates along with their Indian partner Opolis. Maki and Associates were awarded 77.56% while Foster + Partners were a close second at 75.59%.”

The Bihar decision has caused concern to some international members of the jury. The seven-person jury comprised three Indian officials, as well as Neelkanth Chhaya, the dean of the School of Architecture, Ahmedabad, and three international members—the Indian-born artist Subodh Gupta, the Irish architect Roisin Heneghan and the Victoria & Albert Museum’s director Martin Roth.

Following the announcement, Roth told The Art Newspaper: “After a thorough discussion, the jury chose the Foster scheme. We felt it was the best design. At the very last moment, the officials questioned the result.”

The Toronto-based consultants Lord Cultural Resources directed the architectural selection process. Barry Lord confirmed that in terms of overall points awarded, including financial considerations, Maki was slightly ahead of Foster.

A Foster spokeswoman said that “we are naturally disappointed not to win the contract”.

The three other architects on the short-list had been Daniel Libeskind (New York), Coop Himmelblau (Vienna) and Snøhetta (Oslo).

Bihar state, which lies in eastern India just south of Nepal, was the centre of the Maurya empire in the third century BC. It is also the place where the Buddha gained enlightenment.

The existing Patna Museum, set up by the British in 1917, is an antiquated and unsuitable building, with poor environmental conditions. It has a particularly fine collection of sculptures, including the Didarganj Yakshi statue, excavated on the banks of the Ganges in 1917.

The Maki scheme involves galleries on two levels, around a courtyard space. Their architects have already begun work on developing the scheme. Construction is expected to start in November.

Bihar’s chief minister Nitish Kumar, who has been the driving force behind what promises to be one of the finest museums in India, promises that the building will be completed in mid 2015.

Inside the new Patna Museum by Maki and Associates with Opolis
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