Municipal Corporation Buildings, Bombay. Designed by Frederick William Stevens (1847-1900), started in 1884 and completed in 1893. This huge complex of offices is situated where two roads meet (Dadabhai Naoroji Road and Mahapalika Marg), facing the Victoria Terminus in Mumbai. For this very important commission, Stevens's design was selected over Robert Fellowes Chisholm's. Philip Davies's comment on it could hardly be more enthusiastic, and deserves to be quoted at some length:
The Municipal Buildings are Stevens's masterpiece, in which he gave free rein to his creative impulses, combining Venetian Gothic and Indo-Saracenic architecture in an architectural symbiosis of exotic forms and details. For sheer ebullience it is unsurpassed in British India, and more than any other building it exudes the twin qualities of Imperial and civic pride, self-confidently symbolised in the crowning figure of on the central gable — "Urbs Prima in Indis."
Davies goes on to praise the cusped window arches and domed corner towers, but what most impresses him is the dominant staircase tower, with its great dome: "It is Xanadu conceived through very English eyes from the Bath office of a High Victorian Goth, for Stevens returned to England to prepare his drawings" (175).
Other commentators are almost as enthusiastic. Jan Morris calls the structure "marvellously miscegenated" and tells us that the dome is 250 feet high, and the statue on top, which she calls "the Spirit of Bombay," thirteen feet (109). Note that a local source gives the height of the tower itself as 255 feet, which seems more likely ("Oriental Buildings").
Photographs by Ramachandran Venkatesh, and text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use the images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one. [Click on the images for larger pictures.]
Davies, Philip. Splendours of the Raj: British Architecture in India, 1660-1947:. London: Penguin, 1987.
Morris, Jan.Stones of Empire: The Buildings of the Raj. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.
"Municipal Buildings." Mumbai Pages. Web. 27 June 2016.
Created 27 June 2016