Muzharul Islam is the single most dominant influence on modern architecture in Bangladesh. Fifty eight years since he began his practice, the influence is still seen around us. Only calling him an architect, is like calling Rabindranath Tagore just a littérateur. He was a philosopher, a great mentor and an activist— to create Bangladesh's own style in architecture. Even though Islam passed away on July 15, 2012, his contribution will forever be remembered in developing our country's own identity.
It was through this man's single handed effort that Bangaldesh saw the beginning of modern architecture. Eyes were turned when this maestro designed the Institute of Fine Arts and the Central Public Library. This was the first time universal modern principles of architecture blended with the nation's own character. Chittagong University campus and Jahangirnagar University campus can also serve as an example of Islam's far sighted brilliance. His designs can be credited for starting Bangladesh's renaissance in contemporary architecture.
Though Mazharul Islam started his career as a trained engineer, he opted for further study in architecture and went to the University of Oregon in the United States and to Yale University where he received a Masters degree under the supervision of Paul Rudolph. It was upon his return to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Islam designed Dhaka Public Library and Institute of Fine Arts. These two designs also established the characteristics of Bangladeshi architecture. We are talking about a person who was a socially and politically conscious activist. His designs were a reflection of Bangladesh itself, keeping in mind the geography, climate and the expressions of its own culture. Islam always kept our climate in his mind for which his designs always played around shade and shadow. One of the primary examples of his thinking can be seen in Charukala (Institute of Fine Arts, Dhaka University) where the design echoes the influence of the out house and inner house designs of rural Bangladesh.
Islam is one of the reasons why Architecture transcended into art in Bangladesh. In an interview given to Shamsul Wares, he once said, “While architecture starts with specific practical day-to-day necessities, it has to, at the same time, transcend to the level of art. Architecture must inspire the people, for whom it is built, by creating spaces that incite the finer, more gracious aspects of the mind.” ... Islam was awarded the Bangladesh Gold Medal from the Institute of Architects; the Honorable Fellowship from the American Institute of Architects; and the Independence Day Award.