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Lokvani Talks To B.D. Nayak

Nirmala Garimella

Architects are the builders of our hopes and dreams.

If we are what we build, we put great trust in the mind of the architect.

B.D Nayak, Architect and Planners, the name is synonymous with the area’s well known architectural expertise to many in the Indian community. He has been with his own firm for more than 15 years and his work definitely speak volumes about his expertise. His office is adorned with models of high end homes that offer space, light and creativity for every homeowner. B.D. Nayak however believes that he is open to designing homes for people that operate on a budget. For instance, he relates to us an experience with a couple who came to him for an addition to their home after the birth of their second baby. “We cannot afford an architect” they told him,and I said “I will give you free advice as an architect, but I cannot help you with the builder.” Till today he says the couple is grateful for his help.

“What is the use of all this education,” says B.D.Nayak “if you cannot put it to good use.” Look at me! I came to this country on a scholarship to MIT since I could not afford it and a Gujarati gentlemen from India footed my ticket and visa. It cost me 20,000 rupees to come here at that time. I can never forget him for what he did. In 1968, I lived on bread and jam alone for 9 months, since I had no money. If we worked, we would be paid 3 dollars for an hour. It was the most important period of my life. Around 180 students had applied and only 18 were chosen at that time. How can one miss an opportunity of this nature.”

"Being an architect can be very demanding," Says B.D.Nayak, ”you are constantly thinking and your mind is continuously wandering. I want to relate to you a story that will tell you the extent of our involvement in a project," he says with a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth and reaching up to his eyes. “I had almost lost track of the time when I was designing the Sheraton at Danvers. Every day I would be at the site and I would envision the hotel and how it would be, people coming, the coffee shop, swimming pool, the lobby etc. In the midst of all this, my wife one day called me and asked me to pick up salt on my way home from work. "Mind you," he says,with a twinkle in his eyes."I was reminded three times and surely I could not forget. Yet when I reached home, believe me, I had forgotten."

There is another interesting anecdote that he shares with us. “One of the houses that I enjoyed designing was the one in Lincoln (photo on the right). The first time the lady of the house came to meet me she told me that she was a regular watcher of soap operas and she saw this really beautiful staircase that she would love to have in her home. She was greatly influenced by houses in Soap operas,” says B. D. Nayak, “and I had to visualize and design exactly what she wanted. It was a challenge.”

B.D.Nayak pulls out a hand made drawing that is one of his earliest designs. It is precise and extremely accurate and beautifully crafted. “Computers have definitely altered our method of work, but not the thinking.” He says. “You have to be a good artist to be an architect. You need to be able to express yourself. Mind you, it is hard work and long years of study. Money is hard and it is highly competitive. To be accredited is a definite advantage. Because of the nature of the work, we are on top of the building pyramid. If anything happens, we have to bear the brunt,” he says, shaking his head. "So I would encourage all budding and student architects to bear this in mind. "And of course, love what you do."

What about the family's participation in his endeavor? "My wife Shaguna is very understanding. It is very important that she knows what I am doing," he says wisely, "her involvement is crucial to what I do. You spend so much time away from your family that it helps when you know she is part of it." His two daughters Taniya and Yoshika are in interior design and marketing.

B.D. Nayak hails from Nagpur. He completed his studies at the Vishweshwaraya Engineering College. His father, a drawing teacher encouraged him to pursue his interest. It was by sheer chance that he went into this field after, as he puts it “whiling away my summers doing nothing but drawing” and from there came here to MIT and even did a few courses at Harvard. In India he worked for Master, Sathe and Kothar and in the US worked with Hughes Architects for more than 14 years before he decided to start on his own. He has been awarded the Distinguished Small Business Accomplishment Award by the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency and has received two awards for designing the shopping center plaza in Falmouth.

His current projects include the 140 room Hampton Inn close to the Musuem of Science in Boston. He has also participated in a lot of International Competitions, one of them being the design for the United Nations Headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

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