Fida Ali was one of Pakistan’s most distinguished architects. He served on the Master Jury for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and received many awards for his work, including the design and construction of important corporate buildings and the conservation and renovation of Mohatta Palace. He is also a recipient of the lifetime achievement award by the Institute of Architects Pakistan.
The enormous range and extent of his work from private houses to public buildings has been admirably captured in Hasan-ud-Din Khan’s sumptuous book The Architecture of Habib Fida.
In 1956 he joined The Architectural Association, the prestigious and exclusive college in London which drew the best professors and the brightest students. The 1950s and 1960s were particularly stimulating years for literature, architecture and the performing arts.
Fida Ali was profoundly influenced by the writings and vision of architect Robert Venturi ‘who opposed established opinions and pointed out an alternative way forward.’
Fida Ali duly qualified as an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects (ARIBA), travelled extensively and returned to Pakistan in 1964. His earliest projects included the Kohsaar Restaurant in Hill Park which no longer exists but is illustrated in Khan's book by spectacular photographs of its imaginative canopy that he created for outdoor dining.1
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, The Forum and residences of eminent businessmen, intellects and entrepreneurs. One of his earliest and award-winning developments was the Shell building. Having concluded the building in 1976, KDA awarded Fida Ali a gold medal for it, calling the Shell House the best building constructed after Partition.
With over 50 years of experience, he glimmered at the mention of new projects. With a staff of over 40, including fresh graduates, his team included stalwarts who were with him from the very beginning. Retirement, he said, was out of the question. The maestro passed away while practicing architecture.2
Habib Fida Ali born in 1935 in Karachi was one of Pakistan's most prominent architects, working in the modernist tradition. Karachi has lost its finest architect. He will be missed.
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. ... Fida Ali was recognised worldwide for his contributions to 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 Lalazar, 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.” ...Renowned architect Nayyar Ali Dadda 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 forums. 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 architect,” he said.3