Park Mansions Restoration in Kolkata
Developed by Armenian jute merchant, T.M. Thaddeus in 1910, Park Mansions, a sprawling majestic building on Park Street Kolkata, was constructed as a rental property with mixed-usage sections comprising both residential and commercial segments. The building, spread over 5 bighas, has a central courtyard and a garden. The architecture is a mix of Victorian and Indo-Saracen styles, with a bulbous dome on the roof, British–style interiors with a touch of Indian architectural details on the façade. While age and disrepair took their toll on the building, a devastating fire at Alliance Francaise damaged sections of the structure. The heat led to excessive stress on the structure, weakening the building´s northeast corner.
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Apeejay Real Estate gave Park Mansions a major makeover in 2010. We started the renovation project for Park Mansions in 2008 in a phased manner without moving the old tenants out of their homes. Amongst other facets of restoration of this city centre architectural heritage, the multi-crore project also included reversing the effects of aging and correcting the stress imbalance caused by a fire in the early 1990s. The work involved reinforcing the sections that had been weakened by the fire, modernizing the escalators and the overhead water distribution system and improving the driveway and the lighting arrangements. While this is a commercial building, it is part of the city's glorious architectural heritage which needed significant funding and painstaking restoration effort.
The result of the meticulous restoration work of Park Mansions was the coveted KMC-INTACH Heritage Award 2013 which was bestowed upon the building by Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in 2013.
Jantar Mantar Restoration in Delhi
We have entered into a unique private-government partnership with the National Culture Fund and Archeological Survey of India to restore the historic Jantar Mantar Observatory in New Delhi a few years back. Together, we planned to work towards the preservation, maintenance, upgradation and beautification of Jantar Mantar in accordance with its conservation requirements.
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In the first stage, a detailed feasibility report was prepared based on historical research, preliminary structural assessment and present cultural function of the yantras or calculation instruments. In the second stage, the various yantras were documented, corrective maintenance was carried out and research/analysis of the observatory’s history (such as the yantras’ original function and its original construction elements) was completed. To raise public awareness about the fascinating yantras, we helped create visual CDs and new signage panels, and organised interactive lectures at the observatory on Summer/ Winter Solstices and Spring/Autumn Equinoxes in partnership with Nehru Planetarium and the Astronomers Association of India. Illumination of all the yantras was completed as the last leg to the project in 2009.
A little less than a decade ago we were among the first corporates to begin work on the Green Delhi Project, the Apeejay Surrendra Group has been instrumental in planting over 1,100 trees on Rao Tula Ram Marg and Zakir Hussain Marg in central New Delhi.
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We have also adopted several islands, trees and plants along the approach roads to New Delhi’s domestic airport to enhance shade and help absorb vehicular pollutants.
The phenomenal growth in the Indian art market during the past few years and the rising international interest in contemporary Indian art have brought India's art industry at the threshold of a new era. We believe that it is time that a policy framework is put in place to propel the art industry on a sustained high-growth trajectory. Keeping this in mind, Apeejay Trust co-sponsored a Study conducted by leading industry association, FICCI, to understand the levels of cultural responsibility of Corporate India.
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The Survey drew responses from over 150 major Corporates in India and revealed that Corporates support various arts to serve the dual purpose of benefiting the communities in which they operate and to build their corporate reputation.
While attempts have been made to provide an institutional base to the social sector activities of the Indian corporate sector, the extent of their support to art and culture have been largely unmeasured. We hope that the study adds to the repertoire of knowledge of the new constitutes namely, National Committee on Art and the Business of Art by FICCI. Represented by leading Indian artists, galleries, auction houses, art historians, policymakers, legal and tax experts and art patrons, the Committee is tasked with putting Art on the National Policy Agenda and catalysing policy changes to add momentum to the growth of the sector. Engaging Indian industry and corporates in the development of the art sector and forging Public Private Partnership in various realms of art and the business of art will also be on the Committee´s agenda.