Passion and Commitment Guides Wadhwa Associates Through 30 Years of Architecture

Mahesh Wadhwa (Left) cuts the cake with employees Ram Guliani and Ajay Kumar, while others from his staff and family look on.

Mahesh Wadhwa (Left) cuts the cake with employees Ram Guliani and Ajay Kumar, while others from his staff and family look on.

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: In the years that he has practiced architecture, Mahesh Wadhwa has been able to reassure his clients with his infectious smile and easy-going personable demeanor. To this, one should add his calm nature under stress that settles the anxiety of his clients who find themselves in a perplexing bind.

Haroon Shaikh, of one Wadhwa’s clients and a well-known CPA for many years, related one such episode when he had bought a property and put in $500,000 into it. “The following week, we got a Demolition Order on it from the City of Pasadena,” said Shaikh as he stood on the stage and spoke to the audience of about 190 people who listened with rapt attention as he described how Mahesh was able to help stop the demolition and finally the project was approved.

It was a night for testimonials as Wadhwa Associates Inc. celebrated its 30th Anniversary with a party at India House last Saturday, May 4 with many of their friends, family and colleagues from over the years. The event featured a catered dinner by Madras Pavilion of Sugar Land and entertainment from friends and a salsa dancing duet.

The entire extended Wadhwa family was there to celebrate the occasion with Mahesh, including his sons Ankur, who manages the family’s La Quinta motel in Brookshire and Pankaj who is a developer and Green Design consultant. Along with his wife Shashi and grandkids, Wadhwa’s extended family was there at the front table to celebrate with him.

Originally born in Multan, Wadhwa’s family migrated to Delhi after the Partition and he came to the US in 1974 and quickly settled down in Houston, establishing his practice in 1982. He has built an impressive portfolio of projects which span all across the US and recently into Mexico, Kazakhstan, Angola and other countries. Many of the projects are hotels/motels and he has designed and built them for all the chains except for Sheraton. Since the South Asian community is concentrated in the hospitality industry, Wadhwa is much sought out for his in-depth knowledge which often saves time and money on new projects.

Wadhwa attributes the success of his architecture practice located on Blalock north of the Katy Freeway to the able staff and consultants who had stood by him over the years, and his wife Shashi who takes care of the office administration and coordinates many technical issues with all the public agencies. “We are family,” he said as he proudly gave out service awards to two of his employees, adding “we love you and we appreciate you.”  Ram Guliani received his award for 10 years of engineering and Ajay Kumar for 15 years of architectural design. A short video ran through the many projects WAI has completed over the past three decades.

Of course most of the projects would not be completed without the help of other professionals and consultants in the design and construction business and Wadhwa called upon several of them who were present to come to the stage and be appreciated. Among them were consulting engineers Harry Brendgen, Jasbir Singh Sethi, Saad Ahmed, Achilis Kozakis and Bandy and Associates; those who couldn’t attend included Chaim Steinberg, Maged Rifat, and B.J. Mehta.

The elderly but still energetic and jovial Sethi climbed up to the stage to stand besides Wadhwa and give a glowing tribute to that profession that “keeps him working sometimes 18 hours a day. Mahesh imbibes this in his life, it is almost a spiritual experience for him” adding that “his designs were not bound by space or time, but he makes them beautiful.” Shaikh followed on his footsteps by adding that he has “had many spiritual conversations with Mahesh and over the years me has even made a vegetarian out of me!”

The program featured a couple of lilting Hindi songs by family friend Shakun Srivastav which moved Wadhwa, who loves to sing, to perform a song – Ahsan mere dil pe hai, mere dosto – himself to honor his enduring friendships and associations over the years. The entertainment was rounded out by two very energetic, colorful and thrilling salsa dance numbers by the couple Hector and Sara Vasquez, rising stars in the local dance circuit in the Bayou City.

The evening was concluded by a trivia quiz of three questions taken from the short video that was presented before, with winners taking away caps with the WAI logo and shortly thereafter, a cake cutting ceremony – which were actually two cakes, one with the WAI logo and felicitations and the other made in the shape of a man sitting at a drafting table and drawing on a sheet, made by Wadhwa’s niece Nidhi Grover. As the evening ended, all the guests were given coffee mugs emblazoned with the WAI and 30th Anniversary logos, and filled with pistachios.