Demolition Derby: Two New Delhi Buildings Fall Just as a Preservation Initiative Launches

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The icons continue to fall. On the night of April 23, only four days before a court hearing that might have changed their fate, the Hall of Nations and the Hall of Industries in New Delhi, India, were speedily pulled down. Constructed between 1969 and 1972 and designed by architect Raj Rewal and engineer Mahendra Raj, the concrete-frame pyramids were said to be the first column-free structures in India, and formed part of New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan, an exhibition and convention complex situated on 123 acres near the Yamuna River. The buildings were commissioned to commemorate twenty-five years of Indian independence, which, sadly, meant they were fifteen years too young to be considered eligible for protection by the local Heritage Conservation Committee.


International preservation nonprofit World Monuments Fund, featured in the Spring issue of MODERN, had planned to include the Hall of Nations in its new campaign, Modern Century, which launched on April 26. The campaign, which allows Instagram users to submit photos of modern sites to WMF using the hashtag #moderncentury, was conceived to involve people around the world in the preservation of modern treasures. The surprise blow against the campaign on the eve of its launch adds poignancy to the effort. “[The] destruction of [the Hall of Nations] just days before its court hearing makes brutally clear the need to rally to protect modern heritage sites,” said WMF President Joshua David in a statement. “We hope that our Modern Century program will raise awareness about modern treasures like the Hall of Nations and save them from senseless demolition.”