This essay is a compilation of rare archival records listing the architects and firms that played a crucial role in shaping the city through the Art Deco style, particularly from the 1930s to the 60s. It is a result of years of extensive research on the city and the people who built it, and lists some of their prominent works.
In the early 20th century, as architects and artists around the world experimented with design and new construction materials, Bombay too came into its own. A dream for a new city was being visualised, in a country moving fast towards independence. The city’s built form as a reflection of its modern metropolitanism is often spoken of. But there were several architects and firms that shaped the modern city as we know it today, whose practice and vision are seldom acknowledged.
Art Deco became the language of modern expression for these architects and their practices. Many of them were a new generation of Indian architects graduating from homegrown schools like Sir J. J. School of Art in Bombay, or the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, among others. These prolific architects merged modernity with prevalent cultural and stylistic practices that reflected swadeshi sensibilities, using a unique stylisation of Art Deco that was adapted to Bombay.
We list the ‘Architects‘ first (alphabetised by last name), followed by the ‘Architectural Firms‘. You may notice overlaps in the practices, representative of a spirit of synergy and collaboration that shaped the city. Click on the buildings highlighted in blue to see them in our online inventory.
(Updated as on 5th October, 2023)
ABBOTT, M. A. RIDLEY
M. A. Ridley Abbott was part of 'Prynne, Abbott and Davis’, a prominent architectural firm in Madras and southern India at that time, along with name partners John E. Davis and Major Harold F. Prynne. Appointed as the architect for Liberty Cinema, Marine Lines, John B. Fernandes took over its completion after Abbott's untimely death.
b. 13 October 1879 - d. 20 March 1956English architect, successful practitioner, academician, Head of the architecture department at J.J. School of Arts (1924-43) and name partner at Gregson, Batley & King (GBK). He was twice president of the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA), from 1921-1923 and 1925 -1926. Also known to have designed Kismet and Gold Croft at Cumbala Hill.
BHUTA, GOPALJI MULJI
b. 1894 - d. 5 September 1963 Initially a member of GBK (joined in 1926), he later became partner at Master, Sathe & Bhuta, where he was responsible for the Bombay Mutual Building and New India Assurance Building, Fort; and Anand Bhavan (Bansda Palace), Cumbala Hill. He later also designed the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Colaba, and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Powai. Also served as Senior Architect in the Department of Architecture, Government of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) for three years.
CHOWDHARI, DATTATRAY RAGHUNATH
b. 1906 - d. 1982 Senior partner at Gregson, Batley & King (since 1945). A skilled artist, he was “design leader” for nearly every scheme under Claude Batley, and also illustrated his books. Designed Bank of India, Fort and South Court, Malabar Hill (former residence Muhammad Ali Jinnah) for GBK.
DITCHBURN, DAVID WILLIAM
b. 15 September 1883 - d. 9 May 1953Reputed architect who came to Bombay after World War I, one-third of Ditchburn, Mistri & Bhedwar. Previously a partner with W.A. Chambers & Co., which completed the Taj Mahal Hotel (originally designed by Sitaram Khanderao Vaidya and D. N. Mirza) in Apollo Bunder. Ditchburn also designed the Metro Cinema, Marine Lines with Thomas Lamb, and Malabar Court, Malabar Hill.
FERNANDES, JOHN BERCHMANS
b. 1905 - d. 24 November 1992 Completed the design of the Liberty Cinema, Marine Lines, after the untimely death of M. A. Ridley Abbott. Worked with Waman M. Namjoshi who designed the interiors. President of the IIA from 1952-54, he served the Institute for 40 years.
GREGSON, THOMAS SEDGWICK
Name partner in Gregson, Batley & King. Vice President of Bombay Architectural Association in 1926-27, which predated the IIA (of which he later became President for two consecutive years, in 1932-34).
JADHAV, MAHADEO KRISHNAJI
Started a private practice in 1931 with two former students, Janardan Ganesh Patki and Ganpat Shrikrishna Dadarkar; the same year he was selected as the first Wittet Scholar. Jadhav was also appointed the State Architect at Baroda in 1941, and Architect to the Bombay Government in 1949. From 1954-55, he was elected President of the IIA.
KAMDAR, BHAGWANDAS MORARJI
b. 20 December 1903 - d. 10 December 1979
Architect and engineer, also known as the ‘Furniture King’ for having founded Kamdar Karyalaya, a pioneering furniture and interior design practice, in 1934. The Kamdars furnished several prominent homes in Bombay and beyond, including the Manik Bagh Palace in Indore. He also built Sudha Kunj , Tardeo.
KING, HENRY FOSTER
b. 1885 - d. 20 November 1956Name partner at Gregson, Batley & King with Claude Batley and Thomas Sedgwick Gregson. First President of the Bombay Architectural Association, which predated the IIA (of which he later became President, from 1945-46). Also known to have designed the interiors for BEST Bhavan, Colaba.
KULKARNI, GANESH LAXMAN
One-half of Marathe & Kulkarni with Dattatray Narayan Marathe (b. 1905 - d. 28 July 1967). Also designed Ganesh Baug, Matunga, and a temporary stage and open-air auditorium at Marine Drive for the Marathi Stage and Drama Centenary Celebrations.
MASTER, CHIMANLAL M.
d. 9 March 1961 Name partner in the first all Indian-led architectural practice – Master, Sathe & Bhuta. Following the dissolution of this firm, he practised under Master, Sathe & Kothari. He trained at the School of the Architectural Association, London, and was also actively engaged with the architectural department of J.J. School of Arts; first Assistant Professor of Architecture and head of department from 1943-48. He served as the President of the IIA from 1949-50.
MERCHANT, YAHYA CASSUMJEE
b. 1902/03 – d. 9 September 1990 Born in Surat, his practice had an impressive span across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, London, and parts of Africa. In Bombay, he designed many buildings, including DCB Building (Ismailia Bank building), Sandhurst Road, and Baitul Saadah, Cumbala Hill. He also taught architecture at J.J. College of Architecture, from 1943-1961. The Jinnah Mausoleum in Karachi, Pakistan was designed by him.
MHATRE, GAJANAN BABURAO
b. 1902 - d. 4 October 1973 Prolific practitioner who worked as a consulting architect with various firms in the city. Through works such as Empress Court, Oval Maidan, Shangri-La, Cumbala Hill, Soona Mahal and Sea Green Hotel, Marine Drive, Karfule Petrol Pump, Ballard Estate, among others, Mhatre’s practice shaped the city of Bombay. He was given the name “Shadow Architect” by Claude Batley, for his silent contribution to designs commissioned to various architects and firms.
MISTRI, JAMSHEDJI PESTONJI
b. 1863 - d. 1941Architect and founding partner of the well-reputed architectural firm Mistri & Bhedwar.
MISTRI, MINOCHER "MINOO" J.P
b. 10 December 1915 - d. 1 August 2009Son of Jamshedji Pestonji Mistri (of Mistri & Bhedwar), Minocher Jamshedji Pestonji Mistri joined the firm in 1940 and was given additional charge of the branch office in Karachi; he became partner in 1941. He co-founded the art and architectural magazine Marg in 1946 .
MISTRI, PERIN JAMSHEDJI
b. 1913 - d. 1989First-registered female architect of India and daughter of Jamshedji Pestonji Mistri (of Mistri & Bhedwar). She received her Diploma in Architecture from Sir J.J. School of Art in 1936, and was a member of the organising committee of the Ideal Home Exhibition, organised by the IIA in 1937. After their father’s death, she and her brother Minocher partnered with David W. Ditchburn to form the architectural practice of Ditchburn, Mistri & Bhedwar. Known for Shengre La, Cumbala Hill.
MULVANEY, JOHN LEO
Architect and engineer known for designing Oval View and Ram Mahal, Churchgate; Shalimar, Marine Drive; and Pallonji Mansion, Cuffe Parade. He was Partner and Managing Proprietor of the firm Mulvenna & Co. Also credited with designing the first reinforced concrete structure in Iraq.
NARWEKAR, SRIDHAR JAYARAM
President of the IIA (1944-45), also known for designing Prabhat, Dadar. Narwekar was the first candidate to pass the inaugural Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Associateship Examination in Bombay, and also the only one at the time to achieve this in the first attempt.
PATKI, JANARDAN GANESH
b. 1899/1900 - d. 28 July 1957 Name partner in the firm Patki, Jadhav & Dadarkar, known to have designed the Don Bosco School and chapel, Matunga; and Industry House, Churchgate. Formerly a member of David W. Ditchburn’s practice, he was also an examiner on the RIBA Examination Board in India (1946-47).
b. 26 October 1906 - d. 31 October 1956 Second Indian partner in Gregson, Batley & King in 1936, after Pierre A. d’Avoine. Designed the Morvi Palace in Gujarat, an Art Deco structure. Also known for Resham Bhavan, Churchgate.
RITCHIE, JOHN A.
Architect of HSBC Bank Building, Fort formerly known as the Mercantile Bank of India. He worked on this project with L. Palfi, in association with Ditchburn, Mistri & Bhedwar. He was also Bombay partner of Palmer & Turner.
STEVENS, CHARLES FREDERICK
b. 1872 Son of Frederick William Stevens, English architect who designed the Victoria Terminus (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus). Born in Bombay, Charles started his own architectural practice in the city. Known as the architect of Regal Cinema, Colaba. He was also briefly senior partners with Thomas Sedgwick Gregson (of Gregson, Batley & King), as ‘Stevens, Gregson & Co.’
THARIANI, ABDULHUSSEIN MEHERALI
Architect with a practice spanning across present-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Known for Karim Building, Mohammed Ali Road; Rawji Sojpal Building, Dadar and Cambridge Court, Cumbala Hill. He was also a poet, and editor of Gujarati daily 'Vatan', founded by Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Engineer and name partner of the architectural firm Suvernpatki & Vora.
BALLARDIE, THOMPSON & MATTHEWS
Firm established in 1919 by Harold Sudlow and Hames H. de C. Ballardie, who was the City Architect for Calcutta. Later joined by Arnold John Thompson and Bernard Matthews. The Calcutta-based practice submitted the winning entry in a design competition for the ACC building (Cement House, Churchgate).
DITCHBURN, MISTRI AND BHEDWAR
Architectural practice established by the merger of the individual practice of David W. Ditchburn with the well-reputed firm of Mistri & Bhedwar, in 1944. Minocher J.P. Mistri and Perin Mistri, children of Jamshedji P. Mistri (of Mistri & Bhedwar) were also partners in this firm. Architects for the HSBC Bank Building, Fort in association with John A. Ritchie and L. Palfi.
DOCTOR AND MHATRE
Architectural firm with Bhicaji Edulji Doctor and Baburao Dwarkanath Mhatre (President of the IIA from 1958-60 and member of the Bombay Housing Board for several years) as name partners. Responsible for building the People’s Insurance Building (Onlooker’s Building), Fort.
GREGSON, BATLEY & KING (GBK)
Est. 1917Architectural firm with name partners Thomas Sedgwick Gregson, Claude Batley and Henry Foster King. Prominent works include Bank of India, Ilaco House and Maneckji Wadia Building, Fort; Cricket Club of India and Ritz Hotel, Churchgate; Windsor House, Oval Maidan; Dhanraj Mahal, Colaba; Breach Candy Hospital and Lincoln House ( Wankaner House), Cumbala Hill; Windmere and Sealand, Cuffe Parade; and Shree Pant Bhuvan, Girgaon (with M.C. Mody & Co.) The firm “Indianised” later with the addition of Indian partners Pierre A. d’Avoine (inducted in 1935), Kumar Ramsinh (1936), Dattatray R. Chowdhari (1945), Pheroze Kudianavala (1960), Julius Lazarus Vaz (1961), Suryakant D. Chowdhari (1961) and S. G. Ranadive (1966). Their clientele included several princely states, which were primarily carried out by Henry Foster King and Kumar Ramsinh, who also designed Morvi Palace, in Gujarat.
MARATHE & KULKARNI
Prolific practice seen predominantly in Dadar, Sion and Matunga, including Matunga’s Aurora Talkies and Nalini Kunj, and filmmaker V. Shantaram’s bungalow, Raj Kamal, Dadar. Starting out as 'Marathe & Co.,' it became 'Marathe and Kulkarni' after G.L. Kulkarni joined in 1939. Name partners Ganesh Laxman Kulkarni and Dattatray Narayan Marathe.
MASTER, SATHE & BHUTA (MSB)
Est. 1932First all-Indian led architectural firm known for several public institution buildings with an emerging but strong Indian identity. Name partners Chimanlal M. Master, Laxman Vishnu Sathe and Gopalji Mulji Bhuta. Prominent works include Sonawala Building and Seksaria Building, Marine Drive; Industrial Assurance Building and Indian Merchants Chamber, Churchgate; Lakshmi Insurance Building, Western India House, Fort; Mafatlal Bungalow and Sea Face Park, Cumbala Hill; and Sonawala Housing Scheme, Tardeo.
MERWANJI, BANA & CO.
An innovative firm responsible for the design of some of the most flamboyant buildings like, Shiv Shanti Bhuvan and Rajjab Mahal, Oval Maidan; Framroz Court and St. James Court, Marine Drive; and Court View, also in Oval Maidan, with Maneckji Dalal and Gajanan B. Mhatre as consulting architect. Name partners Bejonji Khurshedji Bana, Merwanji Maneckji Mistri; Other partners include Russi K. Bana (Rustom Khurshedji Bana, son of B.K Bana).
MISTRI & BHEDWAR
Est. 1891Architectural firm established in partnership between Dhunjishaw Pestonjee Bhedwar and Jamshedji Pestonji Mistri. The firm had the highest reputation for fair-dealing and integrity. Commissioned to build Palm Court, Oval Maidan and Roshera, Churchgate. Merged in 1944 to form Ditchburn, Mistri & Bhedwar.
PATKI, JADHAV & DADARKAR
Est. 1931Established in 1931 by Mahadeo Krishnaji Jadhav and joined by his students Janardan Ganesh Patki and Ganpat Shrikrishna Dadarkar. The firm was commissioned to build Bhalchandra Bhuvan, Matunga and Rustom Court, Worli. After Jadhav left in 1941 (upon appointment as State Architect for Baroda), the other partners continued working under the name “Patki & Dadarkar”.
POONAGER, BILIMORIA & CO.
An established firm with N.H. Poonager, a well-known civil engineer, as the name partner. An important firm as they got many building commissions at a time when few were given to Indians. Gajanan B. Mhatre served as the chief architect for this firm during the early period of his career. Commissioned to build Sunshine, Oval Maidan with Mhatre, Firuz Ara, also in Oval Maidan, and Lentin Chambers, Fort.
SHAPOORJI N. CHANDABHOY & CO.
In 1907, Shapoorji N. Chandabhoy was joined by partners Vicajee A. Taraporevala, Sohrab Framji Bharoocha, Burjor Sorabshaw Jamshedji Aga. Taraporevala and Bharoocha later left and formed their own firms. Aga, nephew of S.N. Chandabhoy, continued the firm after his uncle's death in 1920 as the surviving partner.The firm was responsible for building NM Petit Fasli Agiyari, Churchgate and Dhanraj Mahal, Colaba with Gregson, Batley & King, and Chateau Windsor Hotel, Churchgate.
SYKES, PATKER & DIVECHA
Originally 'Sykes and Patker' with name partners, H. J. Sykes (b. circa 1870 - d. 22 July 1936) and M. S. Patker. Later joined by architect Krishnaram Tooljaram Divecha (b. 27 December 1898) in 1933. Responsible for building the Cotton Exchange Building, Kalbadevi, Swastik Court , Oval Maidan and Currimbhoy Mansion, Cumbala Hill, among others.
TARAPOREVALA, BHAROOCHA & CO.
Vicaji Ardershir Taraporevala, after his exit from Shapoorji Chandabhoy & Co., founded this firm, with Sohrab F. Bharoocha and himself as name partners.The firm was commissioned to build Awabai Mansion, Colaba. Later partners include Merwanji Pallonji Katgara and Eruch Ardeshir Tarapore. The partnership was dissolved in 1929, but Taraporevala continued working alone with the same name till 1937. He was later joined by his nephew, Kersasp Bhiccaji Taraporevala and son, Dorabji V. Tarapore, and the three worked under a new banner, “Taraporevala & Co.”