Architect Habib Fida Ali passes away

KARACHI - Renowned architect Habib Fida Ali passed away on Saturday. He was 81.

His funeral was held at 12 noon at the Bohra Qabristan in Karachi.

Habib Fida Ali, born in 1935 in Karachi, was one of Pakistan’s most prominent architects. Karachi has lost its finest architect.

Habib Fida Ali attended St Patrick’s primary school. In 1952, he became a boarder at Aitcheson College, Lahore, for his O and A levels. He then became the first Pakistani student to be admitted to the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, from where he graduated in 1962. He returned to Pakistan in 1963 to join William Perry’s architectural practice in Karachi, and established his own practice in 1965.

He travelled around the world, stopping at universities in Canada, Istanbul and Iran to see how the institutions were designed there.

Just for the sake of knowing the clients better, to understand what kind of a house they want, Ali spent weeks living with them. His colleagues said he lived for a month with GM Adamjee before designing the family house in Karachi.

Habib Fida Ali’s experience is perhaps as grand in scope as some of the buildings he has designed over four decades in Karachi.

He was the man behind head offices of National Bank of Pakistan, Sui Southern Gas Company, Faysal Bank and Shell. His greatest works, among others, include the restoration of the Mohatta Palace in Karachi, the campus of LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences), Sui Northern and Southern Gas buildings, National Bank of Pakistan, residences of eminent businessmen, intellectuals and entrepreneurs.

Fida Ali was recognised worldwide for his contributions in the field of modern minimalist architecture – Pakistan’s very own Mies van der Rohe. Not surprisingly then, internationally renowned architect, Hasan-Uddin Khan published a book featuring Fida Ali’s greatest works – “A labour of love”. The book launching was held at the Karachi Club Annexe in Lalazaar, which is also a Fida Ali’s creation.

Having completed the building in 1976, KDA awarded Fida Ali a gold medal for it, calling the Shell House the best building constructed after partition.

Fida Ali singled out all the greats of architecture, Louis Kahn, Le Corbusier, Luis Barragan, Tadao Ando in Japan and Geoffrey Bawa in Sri Lanka. He called them “his heroes.”

Faizan Ali Warraich from Lahore adds: The death of architect Habib Fida Ali shocked the people who were close to him. He had a number of friends in Lahore.

Renowned architect Nayyar Ali Dada told The Nation that Habib Fida Ali was known for his simplicity in his architect. “He was my contemporary and together we talked in many seminars and fora. Habib introduced the simplicity in modern architecture in Pakistan. Just look at the LUMS’s building it has all the glory of simplicity in it just because of Habib Fida’s innovative ideas in the field of architecture,” he said.

Dada said he will be remembered for his contribution in architecture which is present in the form of many buildings that he designed as an architect.

“Habib’s straight forward approach in building structures instead of spending huge lot of money and over-crowded structures made him different from all others,” Dada said.

National College of Arts Principal Dr Murtaza Jafri said that Fida was senior architect and he contributed a lot in the field of architecture and served as a role model for young architects.

“Habib set an example by his work for youth that commitment to your work is the key to become a great person. He used architecture as a medium to transform new thoughts in people’s minds. Pakistan has lost a towering personality in the beginning of this year,” Dr Murtaza said.


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