Yatin Patel, founder of DSP Design Associates, has scaled the heights of excellence in three decades
The award-winning architect has spearheaded several prominent architecture, design and master-planning projects, developing over 400 million sq-ft across 1,000+ projects
When your firm is ranked 66th among 100 architectural practices globally by World Architecture (WA)100, there is a sense of achievement – but more so, a great deal of reassurance. It affirms the decision you took decades ago as a young man, belonging to a family of non-design professionals and yet choosing a path distinct from them. Not desiring to be a stereotype with no mark of individuality, Yatin Patel was determined to be his own person and look for a future beyond medicine or engineering – two streams that didn’t satisfy his creative instinct. Architecture, he felt, had the best of both worlds; it was intellectually challenging while also being creatively fulfilling.
“There cannot be one particular moment that would have triggered the inspiration towards making architecture my profession. I was always intrigued by shapes, blocks, structures...juggling them to form interesting stuff. I was not among those who could dedicate long hours to doing a mundane activity, and had a penchant for innovating, problem-solving and creating utility objects and prototypes,” recalls Patel about those early inclinations towards his chosen field.
Of course, it helped that his parents were travel enthusiasts and took him on journeys where it was the structures he saw that stayed etched in his mind. “As a teenager, I had developed an affinity for creating my own assemblage of inspirational structures I had witnessed across countries over time – sketching them to perfection, and creating structures altogether out of my own visualisation. Exploring countries, witnessing the assortment in global architectural styles, capturing details, analysing them...led me to form my inspirations,” shares the architect.
Travelling to Brazil, Barcelona, Florence, Oxford, Rome, France and the USA, while still an impressionable youth, drew him to architecture in a powerful way. “The Fallingwater project by Frank Lloyd Wright in the USA, and Corbusier’s work in France and Switzerland were major influencers in my decision to choose architecture. I lived in the same building as Noshir Talati too. Having grown up in awe of his work, I used to aspire to be someone like him,” recalls Patel. Clearly, once you are inspired by the greats, there is no looking back.
Among his other influences were Charles Correa’s Kanchanjunga Apartments and The Church of Our Lady of Salvation – both in Mumbai; Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute - San Francisco, National Assembly Building - Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin.
Patel remembers his academic days at Manipal University in the ‘80s, rather succinctly, as a time of theoretical learning, visualising design programmes purely on aspirational grounds. Once he stepped out of the university with his Bachelor of Architecture degree, his apprenticeship years began a new course of learning – where practical ground realities needed to be mastered. “After a year’s stint as junior architect with a small architectural firm, I was goaded by a few friends to start my own practice with a promise of continuous work from them,” he discloses about the time he established Yatin Patel and Associates in 1989. He was challenged to wear many hats, “from marketing my skills to winning projects to executing them and also establishing my vendors and contractors supply chain.” Sometimes, he had to work for 48-72 hours at a stretch – without suffering from creative block – to deliver the best solution to a project.
His first independent project, a high-fashion retail outlet in SoBo (South Bombay), solidified his commitment to establish his own practice while still a fresh graduate. “The outlet was owned by actor Suniel Shetty, along with a few others. To a great extent, I credit my decision of taking the leap towards setting up my own practice to Shetty, for playing an instrumental role in the beginning of my journey with a promise of helping me with more projects. My first project garnered a lot of appreciation and instilled confidence in my decision of setting up [a practice] on my own, as the other projects followed,” Patel reminisces.
“The experience was memorable, being my very first independent project and having managed the entire turn of events single-handedly – from making drawings, preparing BOQs (bill of quantity), selecting contractors to supervising the site. The visibility and encouragement reassured me and reinforced the motivation to pursue my career independently.”
Those strenuous early days eventually snowballed into an extensive practice. “My initial projects were within retail, and won me more business purely through word-of-mouth publicity to the extent of being awarded projects by multinational corporations. That is where my faith to sustain and grow strengthened. As part of the business expansion strategy, I partnered with Mehul Shah and Bimal Desai (in the same year, 1989) to re-christen the practice as DSP Design Associates,” explains Patel.
Since then, the design firm has emerged as one of the largest and distinguished architecture, design and master planning firms in India. It has developed over 400 million sq-ft across 1,000+ projects with 70 national and international honours. From IT parks for leading international and national companies to designing high-functioning office interiors, the firm has established a trusting list of clientele, offering design solutions that are global as well as contextual. For instance, the Pega Systems office in Hyderabad, a global facility that is interlaced with design elements reflecting the rich Nizam culture of the city. This LEED compliant project also adopts sustainable measures within the design scheme.
Later on, DSP won its first independent international assignment for Tata Housing – One Colombo in Sri Lanka. Now the firm has diversified its potential by bagging landmark projects in the country, where it is teamed up with some of the best international practices. Among them is Omkar 1973, a residential high-rise in Mumbai being designed by Foster + Partners. As the associate architects, DSP sees this project as setting a new benchmark in luxury residential towers in the country – not only for its exterior and interior design, but also for the its construction techniques and international site safety standards.
As you glance through DSP’s portfolio, it is no wonder that Patel has been recognised for his leadership and design acumen. He was bestowed the Leaders of Indian Infrastructure and Construction Award by The Economic Times Acetech Award (2009); the Indian Achievers Award for Construction & Design by All India Achievers Foundation (2009); and the International Gold Star Awards for Excellence in Design (2004) by The International Economic Forum. Two of his most prestigious awards at the national level are the Bhartiya Udyog Ratna Award (2006) by National Education & Human Resource Development Organisation; and the Indira Gandhi Sadbhavna Award for Contribution towards Society (2003-2004) by Sushil Kumar Shinde (then Governor of Andhra Pradesh).
In his almost 30 years of experience, Patel has seen the field of architecture and design change for good in the country. “Technology has made a huge impact on the way projects have been designed, the turnaround time, the accuracy and, of course, the number of projects delivered within a set time frame,” he states. “If we were to imagine an example of making minor rectifications to a drawing in the yesteryears, it would mean going back to the drawing board, erasing and redrafting. Today, the impetus and perfection that we have achieved with technology makes it far easier to create a world of complex design possibilities with élan.”
He also notes a few not-so-good changes when he says, “Earlier, as architects, we commanded respect from the client, the suppliers and the industry as a whole. However, the current industry scenario has been witnessing a dramatic change with regard to the respectability of architects as well as the shrinking professional fees.”
Despite the highs and lows of this profession, Patel is still passionate about architecture and design, which now extends to actively mentoring his daughters – Riya and Reha, who are following in his footsteps. “I guide them through their academics and live project assignments. I enlighten them on aspects of design that allow them to make conscious and more analytic design decisions – from analysing architectural case studies to research, assembling data, problem solving to visualising and arriving at more accurate and calculated responses to the design context,” he shares. Mentoring second and third generation leaders at DSP on, both, design and business fronts of the profession is something else he is committed to, as the firm’s founder-director.
Patel stepped into this field with a desire to be markedly different, and set out on a path that was new and uncharted in his family. If his success is any indication, he has emerged more confident and optimistic about what lies ahead on his path. “It was due to the confidence from those single-handed deliveries, persistence and faith in the process that I accomplished my aspirations of setting up studios across India with ‘geography-no-bar’ service capabilities. I believe I am young enough to aspire to a global foothold with service capabilities the world over, and certain in all sincerity that DSP shall achieve it,” concludes the architect who founded this award-winning design firm.
Pega Systems Office
The Pega office in Raheja Mindspace Hyderabad is a global facility with an Indian design philosophy. Designed to be true to Pega Systems’ concept of “I to We” working culture, the office is also inspired from the history of Hyderabad, its rich account of the Nizam era and culture. Traditional arts, local culture, kalamkari motifs, images and icons of Indian and Hyderabadi architecture weave the concept together in interesting ways. To synergise the project’s agile functions with sustainability, there was an emphasis on Biophilic Design too, allowing the work environment to benefit from elevated levels of oxygen and freshness. Acoustical ceilings, acoustical petals on the walls, and energy-saving solutions have been woven to the design to make the office LEED compliant.
Interesting elements like huddle spaces in the form of collaboration hubs dispersed within the workplace, concept-based town halls and break-out zones, allow for de-stressing options within the workplace setting at Pega. Focus rooms accommodating four pax are also designed, which could double up as visitor cabins. Small phone booths of two pax capacity are designed to allow people to have one-on-one focused discussions, conference calls. The work area is designed in rows of five to six workstations to form a cluster of 10-12 people in two rows, allowing the whole team to be seated in one cluster.
Pega’s workspace design is flexible due to its variety in seating arrangements. It offers the comfort of working from anywhere in the office, at the same time striking a perfect balance between focused and collaborative working, scalability and space-sharing ratios.
The project: PegaSystems office
The client: Pega Systems Inc
Design firm: DSP Design Associates
Total area: 192,467sq-ft
Year of completion: 2017
Awards: Ace Alpha Awards 2017-Interior Design-Large Offices; Estrade Real Estate Awards 2015 -Interior Design- Commercial
Microsoft Mumbai SMSG office
When Microsoft was reforming its workplace guidelines, it wanted to transition into innovative workspaces that ingeniously combined residential and hospitality design into a corporate office space. The fifth project to make this transition from among its Indian offices, was the Microsoft Mumbai SMSG (Sales, Marketing and Services Group) office in Mumbai. DSP interspersed this central idea with a conceptual design inspired from the physiognomies of the oceans. Peculiar to the oceans is its naturally discerning power of access to new lands and newer discoveries; progress being the backbone of all its activity.
Whether it is through free-flowing organic forms, blue carpets or daylight streaming through glass, oceanic themes and elements can be seen everywhere – from the recreation and break-out zones, well-dispersed collaboration space, conference and board rooms, town hall, cafes, open workspaces to even internal connecting spaces. Walls and ceilings inspired by coral reefs to tailor-made ceramics representing oceanic flora, design elements evoking serene oceanic bliss can be seen throughout. By imparting warmth to the interiors, through wood-finish surfaces, combination of subtle and dark colour palette, and intricate patterns, the office further stays clear from the stark coldness of a corporate office. A home-like ambience can be felt in the meeting rooms and break-out zones too.
The project: Microsoft Mumbai SMSG office
The client: Microsoft Corporation India
Design firm: DSP Design Associates
Total area: 36,000sq-ft
Year of completion: 2016
Oracle Financial Services
Apart from a detailed program, the client gave a single-sentence brief: “Our project should generate a recall as iconic as what you would imagine when you hear of the city of Agra.” The client desired this Bengaluru project to become an iconic landmark in the neighbourhood. This inspirational and thought-provoking brief triggered the architect’s creativity and innovation to conceive a project of 3,00,000sq-ft, which was delivered as a cable stayed structure. All floors of the building were designed to be suspended on cables.
The site overlooks a lake that attracts tourists and locals regularly. The building’s unique structure was envisioned as adorning the lake and serving as a spectacular background to its reflective waters. The clear glass façades then allow the landscaped exteriors to become an extension of the interior spaces, giving the inhabitants constant visual contact with the surrounding nature.
The project: Oracle Financial Services
The client: Oracle Financial Services
Design firm: DSP Design Associates
Total area: 3,20,000sq-ft
Year of completion: 2004
Awards: Best Commercial Structure Award, façade awarded by American Concrete Institute in 2005
With the scope of work including master planning, architecture and interiors, the design needed to promote communication and knowledge-sharing through a plan that optimises opportunities for interaction, both formal and informal. It also needed to establish a strong connection with the outdoors via transparent, open views of the landscaped spaces, and through the use of natural, organic materials in the interiors. The high-density, low-rise development – expected to cope up with future growth – enjoys open spaces at various locations, which helps in facilitating the community experience.
Apart from the development block, which has the workplaces, the campus consists of a customer centre, employee care centre, cafeterias, service apartments and play areas. The podium has been carefully articulated with a combination of majestic steps, water bodies and landscaping, to soften the effect of the parking space below. The glazing pattern facing the podium makes for an interesting background to the landscape in front. To reduce the power consumption, measures such as solar panels, wind mills, LED lighting, VFD (variable frequency drive), daylight harvesting and others, were adopted to bring the usage down by 0.7kwh/sq-ft/month.
The project: Capgemini (I Gate) Development Center
Location: Airoli, near Mumbai
The client: Capgemini
Design firm: DSP Design Associates
Total area: 48,00,000sq-ft
Year of completion: 2017
LEED rating: Platinum
Lodha New Cuffe Parade, Wadala
The New Cuffe parade project aims to set new benchmarks in luxury living in the country while pioneering the concept of ‘responsible’ luxury. Comprising 12 high-rise residential towers and two commercial towers with a clubhouse, it is inspired by the grand historical buildings of India. Courtyards, pavilions and colonnades of the ancient palaces are being envisioned in a contemporary light. These high-rises are spread across 23 acres of beautifully landscaped palace-inspired gardens, serene reflection pools and shaded nooks.
The residences have a grand narrative with column-free interiors and freedom from common walls. They are connected to other units on the same level purely via peripheral decks enclosed by glass walkways. Enveloping these spaces is a façade crafted in shimmering aluminium screens, which provides privacy, soft diffused light and natural shading while minimising heat gain. The use of low-e glass further reduces the power requirement. As for construction techniques, since time is a key factor, the swift method of aluminium formwork (Mivan) is being adopted.
The project: Lodha New Cuffe Parade
Location: Wadala, Mumbai
The client: Lodha Crown Buildmart
Design architect: WOHA Designs
Associate architect: DSP Design Associates
Total area: Approx. 16 million sq-ft (built-up)
Date of completion: Ongoing
Omkar 1973 is set to be a one-of-a-kind residential skyscraper, offering 480 plus sky bungalows with grand terraces, high ceilings and envious views of Mumbai city and sea. The three towers house 3BHK, 4BHK and 5BHK sky bungalows with carpet areas ranging from 3,000 sq-ft to 10,000 sq-ft. The towers are crowned with penthouses varying from simplex, duplex and triplex. Each penthouses will open to personal sky terraces that is scattered at various levels keeping in mind the acrophobic nature of human.
Enveloped in a glass façade, the skyscraper offers minimal obstruction to the spectacular views of the surroundings. Mechanical louvers aesthetically complements this facade in addition to improving the structure’s performance and serving as an acoustic treatment. Being a tall structure the egresses are efficiently designed with international standard. Speediness of construction is being achieved through Jump Form technology, which ensures that the delivery time for the structure will be maintained. DSP believes that this project is setting new standards for site safety and use of new techniques, while also reaching new heights for both architecture and construction in Mumbai.