AIA|LA Historic Resources Committee: SUBTERRANEAN GHOSTS: India’s Vanishing Stepwells
Tuesday, December 2, 2014, 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
USC Taper Hall

AIA|LA Historic Resources Committee: SUBTERRANEAN GHOSTS: India’s Vanishing Stepwells

Date: Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Time: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Location: USC Taper Hall
AIA Members and USC Students/Faculty: FREE
2 Learning Units

India’s famous forts, palaces, temples and tombs are must-see tourist destinations that appear on every itinerary and in every guide book. But another significant category of architecture has been almost entirely overlooked by historians and the general public alike: India’s unique stepwells.
These multi-purpose subterranean edifices - marvels of engineering, architecture and art - guaranteed an essential, year round water supply when groundwater might be ten stories beneath a parched surface. The wells could be astoundingly elaborate while providing crucial shade, rural accommodations, sacred sanctuary and social gathering spots for Hindu and Muslim communities alike. But, while stepwells appear throughout the country and were in use for over a thousand years, they’re quickly disappearing from the architectural timeline. Chicago print and broadcast journalist Victoria Lautman has spent several years documenting these hidden wonders, exploring over eighty of the fascinating, forgotten, but awe-inspiring “subterranean ghosts”.


Victoria Lautman is a Chicago-based print and broadcast journalist with over twenty-five years experience. Besides hosting several radio programs, she’s a former city editor for Architectural Record, Metropolitan Home, Art + Auction, andHome and Garden, and has contributed to many international publications. Lautman travels frequently to India and writes for several publications there while documenting stepwells throughout the country. She’s visited over eighty and is actively promoting their existence in the hopes of  stimulating interest.