Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Celebrating a century

Now that school leaving exam results are out, there will be a lot of activity around this building. Almost since the time it was established, in 1857, the University of Madras has been both a teaching and an affiliating university; in the latter capacity, it had under its fold all the engineering colleges that blossomed in Madras and the districts around during the 1980s. In 2001, it ceded its primacy in engineering education by transferring all those colleges to the Anna University and repositioning itself more as a research university.

When the University celebrated its centenary, it felt the need for a larger space than what was available in its Senate House, which, though spacious, had been taken over entirely by various administrative departments, leaving little space for grand ceremony. (Not to mention the feeling that the Senate House was too old for the modern age). And so came this building, the University Centenary Auditorium, with state of the art facilities; in the early 1960s, air-conditioning was quite rare and for a building such as this one, acoustical aesthetics were even rarer. On both these counts, a fair amount of thought went into the design. (The acoustics were written up as a research paper and published in 1968 by the Journal of Acoustic Society of America).

Even today, the UCA stays at the top of the list of choices for large functions; besides university convocations, the auditorium has hosted public shows, seminars, corporate functions and even movie awards in its 3,250-seater space!

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