1. Let me begin by saying that I shall not comment on the architecture of the building itself. You are the architect and have the prerogative to choose your language. I respect that and expect that ueeveryone else will also do so. However, there are a few things that do touch upon your architectural decisions that impact the campus as a whole. These I must bring to your notice more in the form of academic critique without meaning to offend. These are meant to widen your inquiry as you take the design to the next level of development.
2. To call the SoA building 'Iconic' misses the point and betrays an attitude that celebrates object in architecture and not the place making. It is the campus that is iconic and not the building, which is really a down to earth, straight forward, unself-conscious response to the institutional needs. What can be more economical that parallel walls and north light? Apart from the existing building, what makes this campus 'iconic' is the series of places which are integral to its architecture. Some of these are part of the architecture - like the twin steps at the entrance - or discovered through occupation by the occupiers. Over the years they have become 'institutions' and give the campus its unique character. I believe, this happens when the architect goes about designing his buildings without any self-consciousness. Your labeling of SoA building as ICONIC seems lip service (understandable formality, knowing that one is speaking to CEPT, where the initial architect is still highly respected). I am surprised that you, who is tasked to prepare the new master-plan fail to recognize this important value of the campus. This has less to do with matching the height of the building and more with recognizing and furthering the core essence of the place in terms of relationships between parts. You do come through as very conscious of the task of designing an "iconic addition to and iconic building". Except for the possibilities around the 'kund', there seems little on the ground around the new building as the fine grained fabric of places. Some of my comments below may open up possibilities of addressing this.
3. The heart, and soul, of the campus is the plaza. And, by the way, nobody has ever called it Piazza San Marco. But by calling it thus, you seem to have created an opportunity for yourself to say that it is not Piazza San Marco. Why did you need to do that? For CEPT community, it has always been Piazza CEPT. And it has all the ingredients to generate reverence and loyalty. it is the place of arrival and distribution to various other activities. But more than anything, it is a place of infinite possibilities. Each and every building is oriented toward this open space; SoA, office, canteen, library, faculties of design and technology. Except your new building. Even though you do pay another lip service to the plaza by calling it also iconic, your proposal does exactly the opposite. The new promenade introduces a duality of options upon arrival from the north gate: One has two choices, either to turn left towards the administrative office via the "street" or to the new academic hub straight ahead. This has a number of detrimental consequences for the plaza; a) it gives the new building an independent identity away from the main campus, 2) it establishes a parity between the office and the new hub (in what way these two functions are similar requiring parity?), 3) it devalues the plaza, and the twin stairs, as the 'back yard' of the SoA building and 4) meaning of the north lawn has been altered. It is no more an extension of the Sagra basement. It is now framed with the only easy access from the new classrooms. It is essentially appropriated. The main focus shifts to the promenade, especially with the concrete planters blocking easy access to the heart of the campus.
4. What goes by the name 'promenade', may still remain as an approach to the auditorium directly from the city. But it should be less celebratory and informal. The long bench on the lawn side, is an alien element in the campus; the language for negotiating levels is gentle steps, which are also places to sit. These can zigzag and follow the contours of the north lawn and in the process create places of informal gatherings, where people may look at each other rather than only straight ahead.
5. You do talk about a 'Hinge" on the N-W corner of the SoA building. You offer a visual connection with the plaza. This is not satisfactory. This offers a possibility to connect entrance to the new building with the plaza for the core academic community, and leave the north lawn as an easy extension of the Sagra basement, unencumbered by any obstacles. This entrance from the plaza side, may replace/incorporate your proposed bridge from the canteen and can be a generous gesture with wide steps overlooking the two iconic neem trees. These are really iconic; they are witness to the history of this place and to countless encounters, intellectual, social, academic and romantic (I should know, and so should you). Orienting the new academic hub to the plaza offers the possibilities of adding value to the campus. This alternative remains unexplored.
6. This one is the hardest to articulate. There is a difference between an institution and an organization. Institutions are more fluid with human relationships constantly evolving new forms. Organizations are more obsessed with functional efficiency and structure which may not be always obtainable in institutions. It requires an institutional imagination and an open ended (and an open "hearted") faith in people, not to mention humility among the leadership. This new addition seems an embodiment of an absence (can there be an embodiment to an absence? This may be an oxymoron, but I know of no other way of saying it) of institutional imagination.
Center for the Study of Urbanism and Architecture