Popularly known as “TODS”, The Opus D’Sign studio is a multi-faceted firm with a forte in institutional, educational, medical, residential and industrial designs. The multi-disciplinary practice has an expertise in the field of architecture, interiors, and program management.
Mr. Parekh, the principal architect of TODS, has over 30 years of experience in Architecture, Construction and the Program Management Industry both in India and the US. Having worked primarily in the Washington DC area for over 18 years on a diverse portfolio of projects, his international exposure continues to keep him abreast with innovation in master planning and building technologies. He has conducted several lecture series on Project Management, Design and Master Planning issues organized by National Architectural Institutions. He also acts as a Visiting Professor at leading Institutions.
Q. What attracted you to Architecture?
A. I come from a family of Architects and Doctors. My Paternal side were all Architects, while my Maternal side, Doctors. Seeing my mother and grandfather working hard all day caring for their patients honestly scared me! Thought Architecture was the easier of the two! Not sure if my assumption was correct. I find myself working as hard even after 30 years in the profession. I feel that working smart is more relevant in today’s times.
Q. How would you describe your work ethic in three words?
A. Honesty, Passion and Pragmatic.
Q. You have 30 years of experience. What are some of the biggest changes in the industry that you’ve witnessed?
A. I started my career using the traditional sketching and hand – drafting methodology. The year 1987 was a game changer. Firstly, software like AutoCAD revolutionized drawing standards and changed the essence of how drawings were done. Since then, there have so many more software packages, which once again have re-invented the tools we use for design, production and project administration. Innovative building materials and technology also, has completely changed the building form, it’s parameters and how we design. The possibilities are endless. And lastly, the Internet and Social Media has radicalized the way of our projects are showcased, marketed, experienced and perceived. It’s a brave new world and an exciting time!
Q. How would you describe your architectural style?
A. If I were to look back at all my years of practice, each project has a very distinctive “look and feel”. Every project has its own identity, planning quotient, materials, technology and even architectural character. I have always been a firm believer that the final design has to be a confluence of site conditions, context, orientation and then evolve based on the client’s needs, preferences and input. It’s important to listen and understand the client’s aspirations before we react with a solution.
Q. While you have done a substantial amount of work right here in India, you also have had vast experience in the west. What have been the biggest differences between work there and here?
A. I started my career at a relatively young age and was lucky enough, over the years to work on a plethora of projects and disciplines. The Architectural Industry in the US of A is well organized and hence the parameters for professionalism and work ethic are established. Access to information and data, especially on materials and vendors is available in a systematic fashion.
Q. Did you face any major difficulties when you started the Opus D’sign Studio? How did you overcome them?
A. I truly believe that India offers great opportunities, but also has its challenges. The day to day operational issues can be quite cumbersome. Decision making in India can be quite slow and laborious. Governmental permissions and processes need to be streamlined and good governance is critical. I think effective time management is lacking and is unplanned. Timelines are taken casually, which takes discipline and effort. Changing the mindset of people as it relates to professionalism, project scheduling, cost management and work ethic is important to the success of a project.
Q. What is your solution to dealing with setbacks?
A. The key is to try and not let it get one down. It was difficult when I first started. Projects which I thought were a certainty, never materialized or took a long time to start up. On the other hand, certain projects just happened instantly after the first meeting. Life is full of surprises. Some good, some not so good. As we get older, we learn to prioritize issues and deal with setbacks better. There have been times, that I may have lost a project and feel rejected. It’s important to step back, focus on other opportunities and not on the negatives.
Q. What is your preferred kind of project to work on? What has been your absolute favorite project so far?
A. I have worked on a lot of institutional projects in the US and somehow continued to do substantial work within that segment in India. While every project is special in its own way, the Mercedes Benz International School holds a special place in my heart. We won the International Design Award for that project.
Q. What are some of the biggest mistakes amateur architects tend to make?
A. We all make mistakes at various points in life. Hopefully, we learn from them and not repeat them. India’s liberalization of the economy has offered some amazing opportunities. But, with that, we are also experiencing the “I want it now” culture. While consumerism has its macro advantages, patience and perseverance is still the name of the game. There are no shortcuts to success, at least not success achieved by honest, ethical and transparent means. Rome was certainly not built in a day.
Q. What do you think is the most important thing to consider for people who want to be successful in the field of architecture?
A. I think that Architecture as a profession has many facets – design, contract management, marketing, site administration, fiscal planning, etc. It’s important to understand all the facets and be able to work effectively in all areas. One has to be an all-rounder.
Q. What qualities do you value most in your employees?
A. Honesty, Loyalty and Working Smart.
Q. What are some new architectural styles that you’d be interested in incorporating into your projects?
A. I feel that design has to be logical, pragmatic and must constantly evolve. An architectural style has to work within the context of the project and has to define a project’s character. It’s great to be working with new materials and technology, while showcasing a historical character.
Q. What do you like to do in your free time?
A. I follow the stock / equity markets and try to remain current with business developments.
Q. What do you when you need a break from work?
A. I am a movie buff; recently Netflix has been a good stress buster and relaxer. I would like to re-start golfing but have been lazy.
Q. What advice would you give your younger self?
A. It’s important to have a mentor. Someone who can guide and advice you. Helps you make less mistakes!!
For TODS, the initial step in the design process is to understand the client’s requirements. As designers, they focus on the importance of understanding and analysing the client’s needs to ensure a smooth spatial translation. On the basis of the mutual understanding of the “look and feel” of the project, a space programme is formulated to establish the spatial requirements, project scale, budget and timelines. This calculated process has led to many successful projects, some of which are mentioned below.
PICT Model School at Mhalunge, Pune
Envisioned as an educational institution that focuses on the holistic development of the students, right from kindergarten to higher secondary education and embodies colonial architectural facades and elements by Pune Institute of Computer Technology, the campus sprawls over a contoured land of 10 acres and offers several well equipped sports facilities and amenities such as a football ground, athletic track, swimming pool, gymnasium, shooting range, tennis court, basketball court, skating rink, indoor games room and a multipurpose hall with a capacity to house 700 people.
KLES World School at Belgaum
A product of several brain-storming sessions with the school management to understand the cultural dynamics, the school developed by the prestigious Karnataka Lingayat Educational Society is spread out on a 2.5 Acre site in the Kuvempunagar Community of Belgaum, catering to primary and secondary education. The campus offers several well-equipped sports facilities and amenities like amphitheatre, swimming pool, football field, a secure play area and an athletic track thus encouraging co-curricular activities for an all-round development of the students.
Ruby Hall Hospital at Amanora Park Town
The globally recognized brand of hospitals, “Ruby Hall Hospital” is setting up a 7 storied hospital at Amanora Park Town in Hadapsar, Pune. The state of the art 150 bedded hospital with 4 specialised bunkers that include facilities such as tomotherapy, cyberknife, high energy linear accelerator, low energy linear accelerator and much more, will to cater to the expanding population in the Eastern corridor of Pune.
“Tan Tien”: A Spiritual Healing Centre at Lavasa
Located within a residence perched atop the lush green slopes of Lavasa, the spiritual healing centre, designed in accordance with Vastu principles aims to focus the spiritual energies into the space that was sustainable and harmonious with nature. Since the space was a combination of recreational and residential activities, a clear demarcation between public and private spaces was adopted in the planning. Meditative and therapeutic spaces such as Tulsi Vrindavan, Brahma Sthal, Lagoon, Treatment room, Rejuvenation room have been provided in order to uplift the spiritual consciousness of the individual. Sustainability practices such as organic farming in the kitchen garden, installation of windmills, the use of natural materials such as bamboo, wooden flooring, water based non-toxic paint further enrich the purity of the natural form.
I.V.F. Centre at RHC, Pune
The client RHC renovated the existing IVF centre to incorporate state-of-the-art medical facilities such as an I.V.F. laboratory, 2 Operation Theaters, and allied healthcare spaces with a division between the sterile and non -sterile zones. In order to maintain the sterility of the environment, the administrative, sterile and non- sterile zones have been skillfully segregated in the planning.
Synonymous with a global innovative outlook, TEAM TODS believes in inculcating the design with technological superior solutions using state of the art materials and aesthetic appeal. Design Philosophy. Right from the ideation, a balance is maintained through a constant 6 pronged approach that addresses functional, aesthetic, technical, budgetary, timely and quality delivery of the project to the clients’ satisfaction.