Architect Christopher Charles Benninger: 10 Plus 1 Gurus Who Changed My Life

One of the most celebrated architects of the nation, Christopher Charles Benninger was the keynote speaker at WADe Asia 2017. He talked about all women who influenced and changed his life.
Christopher Charles Benninger, Founder, CCBA, Pune

One of the most celebrated architects of the nation and the founder of the CCBA-an Indian multidisciplinary design company, Prof. Christopher Charles Benninger was the keynote speaker at WADe Asia 2017.

The award-winning American-Indian Architect and planner- Christopher Benninger also launched his book, "Architecture for Modern India at the WADE Asia event. The book was published in Italy by Skira- Rizzole.  Last year, at the WADe Asia event, he talked about all women who influenced and changed his life. Here, we are presenting what he said at the event about 10 plus 1 gurus who changed his life:

BARBARA WARD

Barbara Ward was the Editor of Economist at one time, a very eminent woman economist who even wrote speeches for the Pope and Kennedy. She organised the Habitat One Conference in Vancouver as well as UNCHS Habitat in Nairobi. Another Conference she organised with Maurice Strong was the Stockholm Environmental Conference, the first UN Environmental Conference.  Barbara argued that all of these organisations should get out of Geneva, New York and Rome and they should be in Emerging countries. “She was an amazing person,” says Christopher, adding “I met Barbara Ward for lunch, when I was a student at Harvard in 1966, at the end of the lunch she asked ‘Why don’t you come for the Delos Symposium in Greece’ which had people like Margaret Mead, Buckminster Fuller, Arnold Toynbee. When I said, I would love to but I can’t afford, she said ‘Don’t bother, I will pay your air fare’. Wonderful! Isn’t it? So these are the kind of people who change your life. Up until the time I met Barbara Ward, I was a small town boy, lucky to be studying at Harvard and I met this woman who was incredible that she said ‘I’ll take you to Greece.’”

Christopher was highly influenced by Barbara Ward when he designed the Mahindra United World College in India, a global college with global thinking with students from usually over 60 countries. “She was globalist and she gifted me a window into Internationalism as a positive thing,” he added. When he started the institute Centre for Development Studies in Pune, Barbara Ward became its first President.

JAQULINE TYRWHITT

Jaquline Tyrwhitt was the Editor of a Journal called ‘Ekistics’, one of the Founders for the movement on Urban Design and she taught Christopher at Harvard. On his trip to Greece, Christopher had stayed at her home and got to know her. She had lived in India for 3 years as a UN Consultant helping Nehru start the Ministry of Housing, and she was very familiar with India. “She is the person who told me at one point in my life ‘Why don’t you go to India, you will learn a lot there’. So how did she change my life? Well I came to India,” he says.

“Suddenly, I had started thinking Internationally, I was doing things I would have never done before and I learn about people’s relationships, how they work and I think it’s very exciting to me”

When he started Centre for Development Studies, it focussed on poverty alleviation, environmental change and quality, people like Barbara Ward and Jaquline Tyrwhitt were his influences.

MARGARET MEAD

While attending the Delos Symposium Seminar, Christopher made friends with Margaret Mead and her daughter Mary Catherine Bateson. Margaret Mead invented something called the ‘Sexual Revolution’ with her book ‘Coming of Age in Samoa’ where she made very famous arguments about sexuality. When she came back to America in the 1950’s, the Women’s Liberation Movement was well on its way and so was the sexual revolution. She was a woman who had no hesitation to talk about sex and she was the woman who had no hesitation to talk about alternative lifestyles, women’s role & women’s rise.

Read the full article here... http://www.wadeasia.com/christopher-charles-benninger/

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