Seven years after being approached by UNESCO, local governmental entities in Chandigarh, located in the Himalayan foothills of northern India, have applied for the city's designation as a world heritage site. Designed by Le Corbusier during the 1950s and early 1960s, the city of wide boulevards, leafy landscapes, and boldly geometric concrete structures is the 20th century architect's most completely built urban vision. Its iconic Parliament, Secretariat, and Palace of Justice are staples of architectural history survey courses. Most of Corbusier's buildings sit within the city's 27-square-mile historic core. While designation could bring more attention not to mention tourism and its income to Chandigarh, not everyone has been receptive. Aditya Prakash was a longtime chief architect of the city and a member of the original team that worked with Corbusier. Prakash died in August, but earlier this summer, according to the Indian business newspaper Mint, he complained that preservation might preclude the city's growth and change over time. "We should not kill it," he said, "but it should be allowed to die."
Concurrently, plans have been announced for a new museum and research center that will serve as an interpretative center for Corbusier's designs. It will be the second such center devoted to the architect in India?the other is in Ahmedabad and the sixth in the world. The center will be located in a Corbusier-designed structure that was his office during the development and construction of the city. Reportedly, many objects, including furniture, shelves, and cupboards, have remained untouched since the architect last left Chandigarh more than four decades ago.
The new center may open as early as this month, with its companion website to be available soon. The UNESCO world heritage designation is expected in early 2009.