Ar. G. Jayalakshmi, Dean, Crescent School of Architecture

In a world where equality is seldom achieved, there is always a need to get back and look for biases. “If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a nation”- A strong saying that emphasises the necessity of women’s empowerment and leadership in the education fraternity. In the 21st century, women’s empowerment has not been on a consistent rise as it should have been, and more women are required in leadership roles, particularly in the Education fraternity. There is a need to create a more plausible working environment for the women workforce of the country, so they can  explore more options to head over to the administrative ladder. The unending expectations, personally and professionally, always pose questions for the women in the workforce on their decisions to continue further down the road.

Professor and Architect G. Jayalakshmi, Dean of Crescent School of Architecture, understands the importance of bringing women to the forefront, making her an influential women leader in Indian education. As Dean of Crescent School of Architecture, her primary aim and objective are to make the Institute the most sought college of Tamil Nadu for Architectural education. With equality as her prime focus, Ar. Jayalakshmi zeros in on having empathy towards the students and keeping in mind that they are not just students, but they represent the future dreams of their families, which has been one of the thought processes to achieve this success. “Being an administrative Head in various Institutions and Organizations has given me insights into people and time management, particularly handling the masses of young students who are dynamic and energetic,” says Ar. Jayalakshmi.

Changing with the Times

The Education system has become diversified, and here, at this juncture, only the scenario in Architectural Education can be deliberated. “My utmost concern would be the flexibility of academic structure for the Institutes and the gap between the Academics and Practice. One cannot be practised or taught without the other,” shares Ar. Jayalakshmi. Crescent School of Architecture believes that the moral values of Architects need to be practised by the students from their foundation year to be aware of their responsibilities in their communities.

Ar. Jayalakshmi believes that the key to success is knowing how to navigate every learning curve towards progress. The right attitude towards the learnings of everyday life is the key to keeping yourself engaged with whatever you are meant to do for success. A good leader always aspires to build the team and take the team along on the challenging climb towards success and Ar. Jayalakshmi understands that aspiring for such leadership qualities has not been easy. “It has been a process which has warranted a lot of time and energy. At the same time, the process has helped hundreds of students find their inspirations and proceed with their dreams. It has been compelling to be amongst the students whose devotion and love have always made the journey worthwhile,” she shares.

The most important lesson she realised, particularly concerning successful practice, is balancing all 4- Qs of Leadership skills. Everyone who has to be successful in life must have the right mix of all 4Qs of skills- Emotional Quotient, Intelligence Quotient, Social Quotient, and Adversity Quotient. “My high IQ has helped me with various situations throughout my career, but I have always been trying to make sure that I get a handle on my SQ, which is highly necessary to keep one afloat. Staying on the learning curve has always helped me stay on my path to success,” shares Ar. Jayalakshmi.

What Sculpted her Future

During her schooling, Ar. Jayalakshmi was a very vocal and radical student. “I remember that I used to look forward to unconventional classes under the tree shades as opposed to classes taken inside four walls of the classroom,” she shares. As a student, she was guided to develop her interests and passions towards various co-curricular and extracurricular activities. This gave Ar. Jayalakshmi the ability to discover her passion for architecture, pursue her career as a successful architect, and push the boundaries of Architectural education. Ar. Jayalakshmi always had a knack for leadership from a young age, being a football player and headed her school’s and her college teams to various cultural programs and competitions held in the state. “I have always believed that participating is more important than winning and looking backwards, those qualities have shaped me into adorning my current responsibilities,” explains Ar. Jayalakshmi.

In her college days, Ar. Jayalakshmi was inspired by the works of Ar FL Wright, which made her realise that her Architectural works can affect people’s lives on a day-to-day basis. Ar. Jayalakshmi feels she has always been blessed with the right people and at the right time. In the field of Architecture, Education is not separate from Industrial Practice. One cannot be practised or preached without the other. “I would say that I was among the few directly guided and mentored by the Late Dr Ar Althaf Ahmed, beloved Architect & Academic Mentor of hundreds of students. Ar Althaf sir was a breathing example for that and has guided me into achieving my successful career,” Ar. Jayalakshmi explains.

Professional Excellence

Crescent School of Architecture, although being a constituent body in a renowned University, has been given flexibility and freedom to function as an Independent Unit in many aspects. The support that is given by the management for this conduct has given Ar. Jayalakshmi more space for herself as the Academic and Administrative head of CSA.

Crescent School of Architecture, a constituent school of B.S.Abdur Rahman Crescent Institute of Science & Technology- a renowned Institution spanning over four decades of service rendered towards the Scientific and Technology community. Crescent Group of Institutions was envisioned to empower the girl’s education in the southern part of the state of Tamilnadu by our beloved Founder- Allhaj Dr B.S.Abdur Rahman, way back in the 1970s.

Being the First Indian to host the Indian banner in various Internationally renowned Construction tie-ups, it was only the next step for the management to launch an Architecture school in the B.S.Abdur Rahman Crescent Institute of Science & Technology campus in 2010. Crescent School of Architecture was envisioned as the platform for budding architects to be vision oriented towards changing the skyline of our Great Nation’s cities.

Crescent School of Architecture has always been given the flexibility to ensure that budding architects should be given ample stimulation to be creative and explore more options in the field. The infrastructure provided by the Management is an example of creating an Innovative External environment for students to explore creativity. The students are supported by faculty in a ratio of 1:10, which allows them to have one-on-one interaction with the faculties who navigate them towards exploring more creative solutions. Frequent intermediate reviews with external practising architects enable the students to be exposed to more real-life challenges and problems, making them think and work towards innovative solutions for real-time scenarios. The students work in individual and group designs, where they brainstorm and spark creative discussions. “We believe that innovation and creativity, when the basics are in place, can be practised by the students to apply in their day-to-day exercises,” says Ar. Jayalakshmi.

Cultivating the Coming years

The most important initiative that CSA took towards achieving a better educational experience was to reframe the syllabus and curriculum structure of the B.Arch degree under the needs and necessities of the Industry and the student’s mindset towards architectural education. This was done while keeping in mind the current regulations and frameworks given by the central regulatory bodies of Architectural education. “While we were framing the syllabus for my Bachelor of Design -specialising in Interior Architecture, my years of practice in Interior oriented projects have guided me through the entire deliberations and successful conduct of the course at Crescent School of Architecture for more than the past five years,” Ar. Jayalakshmi shares.

Crescent School of Architecture is constantly heading towards pioneering cutting-edge innovations, which is an advantage to students. “We are currently working on various sensor-based installations that might revolutionise smart building techniques. CSA has also been pioneering in Design patent registration which is directly recognised by the Government of India,” explains Ar. Jayalakshmi.

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