Rabindra Bhavan was built to mark the birth centenary of Tagore, who in addition to being a poet and novelist, was an artist, playwright and composer. The building is thus the home of three National Academies: Lalit Kala (Plastic Arts), Sangeet Natak (Dance, Drama and Music) and Sahitya (Literature).
The complex stands on a 1.45 hectare site amongst other art institutions forming the cultural centre of New Delhi. It consists of an administrative block, exhibition block and a theatre block. The administrative block, Y-shaped in plan, is a four-story structure to house offices of the three academies and a library. A 1.2m roof overhand protects building surfaces from the streaking effects of rain. Centre-hung windows have a double row of continuous sloping R.C.C. chhajas, blocking off strong sunlight yet permitting breezes to flow in. the administrative and exhibition block enclose a cluster of beautiful old trees shading the ruins of an ancient mosque.
The pentagonal exhibition block, one side of which follows the curve of an adjacent traffic island, has a basement and two upper floors on split levels. The galleries around a central service core have continuous exhibition spaces with provision for natural and artificial light. Jalis have been discreetly used in various parts of the building to reduce glare and provide subdued natural light.