Ripon Building on the way back to 1913

Sources say the renovation has been taken up at a cost of Rs 7.7 crore and two-third of the work has been completed.
The renovation of the Ripon Building is expected to be complete by the year end, say official sources.
The renovation of the Ripon Building is expected to be complete by the year end, say official sources.

CHENNAI: The Ripon Building was once a majestic structure. Today, it is an unseemly sight with the construction work on and around it. But by the end of this year all this is set to change, as the project to repair the Ripon Building is on in full swing. The scaffolding and girders will be removed and the building will be restored to its 1913 glory. According to sources in the Corporation of Chennai, which has its headquarters in the Ripon Building, close to two-thirds of the repair and restoration work has been completed. Officials aim to finish work on the outer part of the structure before the storm season, and to finish restoring the interiors by year’s end.

The restoration work has been taken up by the civic body at a cost of `7.7 crore. It involves the replacement of plastering and the restoration of both hard and wooden flooring where necessary. Officials say the building is in sound shape and does not require structural change.

“Over the years, as space requirements changed, plywood partitions were used to create new offices. These will be removed and the building restored to its 1913 state,” says Corporation Commissioner D Karthikeyan.

He said the civic body was actively consulting with a committee of conservation and restoration experts. This committee consists of representatives from the Archaeological Survey of India, the Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology and the Tamil Nadu chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

A member of the committee expressed satisfaction with the way the work was progressing and with the sensitivity of senior Corporation officials to getting the restoration right.

“There are three members on this committee and Corporation officials make sure we all visit and review the work at least once a month. They attach value to our inputs. In fact, they have even changed the course of the work on our recommendations. We are very happy with the progress of work,” says S Suresh, Tamil Nadu State Convenor of INTACH.

Corporation officials are also in continuous coordination with engineers of the Metro Rail project, construction of which has eaten into a part of the Corporation’s premises. “We are constantly in touch with them. But we need to be clear that there is going to be absolutely no damage to the Ripon Building because of the Metro Rail,” says Karthikeyan.

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