Brinda Somaya is an architect and urban conservationist. Upon completion of her Bachelor of Architecture from Mumbai University and Master of Arts from Smith College in Northampton, MA, USA, she started her firm Somaya and Kalappa Consultants (SNK) in 1978 in Mumbai, India. In May 2012 she was conferred an Honorary Doctorate from her alma mater, Smith College. In 2014 she was awarded the Indian Institute of Architects – Baburao Mhatre Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement. From 2016-2021 she was the Chairperson of the Board of Governors, School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada, an Institute of National Importance. In 2017 she joined the Board of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, Zurich, Switzerland and was also elected as the A.D. White Professor-at-Large by Cornell University, U.S.A.
Over four decades she has merged architecture, conservation and social equity in projects ranging from institutional campuses, rehabilitation of an earthquake-torn village to restoration of an 18th century Cathedral, showing that progress and history need not be at odds. Her belief that ‘The Architect’s role is that of guardian – hers is the conscience of the built and un-built environment’, underlines her work that encompasses large corporate, industrial and institutional campuses and extends to public spaces, some of which she has rebuilt, and others reinvented as pavements, parks and plazas.
Some of SNK’s award-winning campuses include Tata Consultancy Services, Banyan Park, Mumbai; Nalanda International School, Vadodara; and Zensar Technologies, Pune. In 2021 SNK Consultants won UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage award of Merit for Malabari Hall, Seva Sadan, in 2019, the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage award of Distinction for the `Restoration and Upgradation of the historic Louis Kahn Buildings of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), in 2018, the UNESCO ASIA-PACIFIC Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation – Honourable Mention, 2018 for Rajabai Clock Tower and University of Mumbai Library and in 2004 the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage award for the restoration of the St. Thomas’ Cathedral in Mumbai. In 2013 Brinda Somaya was chosen as one of the 100 GLOBAL PUBLIC∙INTEREST∙DESIGN persons working at the intersection of design and service globally.
She is the Founder Trustee of the HECAR Foundation which has brought out several publications on Heritage and Architecture. In 2000 she curated a conference, ‘Women in Architecture 2000’, and organized a seminal exhibition on the work of women architects, with a special focus on South Asia, In 2020, she chaired an international conference ‘Women in Design 2020+’ a landmark event for women designers from across the globe to showcase SNK’s work as well as provide a platform to collaborate. In 2018, she brought out a monograph’Brinda Somaya – Works & Continuities’ covering her diverse practice with MAPIN Publishing and the HECAR Foundation.
Brinda Somaya was on the IAWA board of Advisors (International Archives of Women in Architecture), U.S.A. She has delivered analytical and critical talks as well as presented papers in India and abroad on her work. She has lectured extensively in the U.S.A, U.K., Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka & India and her work has been exhibited in the USA, UK and Japan.