Muzharul Islam

Muzharul Islam (25 December 1923 – 15 July 2012) was a Bangladeshi architect, urban planner, educator and activist. He is considered as the Grand Master of regional modernism in South Asia.[by whom?] Islam is the pioneer of modern architecture in Bangladesh and the father of Bengali modernism.[2] Islam's style and influence dominated the architectural scene in the country during the 1960s and 70s, along with major US architects he brought to work in Dhaka.

Muzharul Islam
মাজহারুল ইসলাম
Born(1923-12-25)25 December 1923
Died15 July 2012(2012-07-15) (aged 88)[1]
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Alma materUniversity of Oregon
Yale University
AA School of Architecture
AwardsGrand Master Award, South Asian Architecture Award Ceremony
Independence Day Award
BuildingsFaculty of Fine Arts
Jahangirnagar University Master Plan and designs
Chittagong University master plan and designs
Bangladesh National Archive

As a teacher[by whom?], architect, social and political activist, Islam set the course of architectural practice in the country not only through his own many varied works but also through being instrumental in inviting architects[citation needed] like Louis Kahn[by whom?], Richard Neutra, Stanley Tigerman, Paul Rudolph, Robert Boughey and Konstantinos Doxiadis to work in Bangladesh.

Early lifeEdit

Muzharul Islam was born on 25 December 1923 in Murshidabad. He went to the United States in 1950 where he received his bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Oregon. In 1956, he received a scholarship to study tropical architecture at the AA School of Architecture, London.[3] In 1961, he completed his post-graduation under Paul Rudolph from Yale University.[4] At Yale Stanley Tigerman was one of his classmates, and there he came in touch with Louis I Kahn.[5] Muzharul Islam began his career by designing two buildings in the Shahbag area in 1955 – Dhaka University Library and College of Arts and Crafts.[6] Between 1958 and 1964, Islam was an architect in C&B Dept of the Government of East Pakistan.[4]


Site Plan for Sher-e-Bangla Nagar

His most important work was born when the Governor's Conference of Pakistan decided in 1959, under the leadership of President Ayub Khan, that Dhaka will be second capital of Pakistan.[5] The government decided to build a capital complex at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka. Muzharul Islam was given to design Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban[by whom?] (National Assembly Building of Bangladesh). But, he brought his teacher Louis Kahn[by whom?] into the project to do a significant work for future generation. Islam worked closely with him from 1965 to Kahn's death in 1973[by whom?].

Along with Kahn[by whom?], he also brought Paul Rudolph and Stanley Tigerman to work in Bangladesh, and three of them came to be known as the American Trio. Apart from the Trio, it was Islam's monumental style that dominated Bangladesh architecture from the 1950s onwards.[5]

His major works include – Jahangirnagar University, Chittagong University, Central Public Library, Charukala Institute, the Azimpur Estate, Rangmati township, and a number of Polytechnic Institutes.[4] Islam designed the master plan of Dhaka City.[citation needed] He also created the logo for the government of Bangladesh.[7][importance?]


A documentary film on Mazharul Islam named Tini (The Architect) was released by Institute of Architects Bangladesh in 2000, which was directed by Enamul Karim Nirjhar.

Notable worksEdit

Year Project Image Location Comments
1953–54 College of Arts and Crafts   Shahbag, Dhaka
Dhaka University Library University of Dhaka
Bangladesh National Archives and Library


Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka
1962 Housing for class IV Employees Azimpur Estate, Dhaka
1963–64 Railway Rehabilitation Zone Khilgaon, Dhaka Plan for the project
Rangamati Town Rangamati, CHT Plan for the project
1963–65 BCSIR Laboratory Buildings Dhanmondi, Dhaka
1964 National Institute of Public Administration Building Shahbag, Dhaka
1965–71 Headquarters Building, Agricultural Development Corporation Motijheel, Dhaka 14 storied
5 polytechnic institutes Rangpur, Bogra, Pabna, Sylhet and Barisal In collaboration with Arch. Stanley Tigerman
EFU Building (Jiban Bima Bhaban) Project Motijheel, Dhaka 27 storied
Road Research Laboratories Dhaka, Bangladesh
1968–71 Chittagong University master plan and designs Chittagong University, Chittagong Designs for students' hostel, humanities building, science building, administrative building, readers' quarters, VC's quarters, professors' quarters, storage and godowns
Housing for Ruppur Atomic Energy Complex Savar, Dhaka
Jahangirnagar University Master Plan and designs   Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka Designs for students' hostel, readers quarters and class IV employees' quarters
1980–84 Jaipurhat Limestone and cement Project Jaipurhat, Bangladesh Master plan, housing for 200 officers, housing for 1700 employees, clinic and hospital, clinic and hospital, bazaar and mosque
National Library Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka
1987 Office Building for the World Bank Dhaka, Bangladesh
1995 Garden City Project Dhaka, Bangladesh 20 storied


Muzharul Islam died on 15 July 2012 at 12.06 am in Dhaka, Bangladesh.[9] He was aged 88.


Some publication featured Muzharul Islam:

  • Encyclopædia Britannica Volume 22, 15th Editions 1986, page- 99.
  • Architectural Review, London, April 1960, Page-155.
  • Environments, Volume 19, Number 2, 1988, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, Page-55 to 60.
  • Architecture + Design, New Delhi, India, May–June 1988, page- 26 to 32 & 36.
  • The Sangbad, Dhaka, 23 December 1993, Page-12.
  • Daily Bhorer Kagoj, Dhaka, 24 December 1993, Page-9.
  • Daily Bhorer Kagoj, Dhaka, 7 March 1994, Page-12.
  • Weekly Holiday, Dhaka, 31 December 1993, Page-6.
  • Daily Star, Dhaka, August 2000.
  • Lecturer, Exhibition of Works of Four Architects of the Indian Sub-Continent; New York, Philadelphia, 1997.
  • Lecturer, Exhibition of Architecture in Bangladesh, “Pundranagar” to Sher-e-Bangla Nagar (350 B.C. to present time), 1997.
  • An Architecture of Independence : The Making of Modern South Asia, 1997, University of Pennsylvania.
  • The India International Centre Quarter: Monsoon 1997, Volume- 24, Number 2–3.
  • Architect Muzharul Islam and Chicago Architect Stanly Tigerman did the elaborate study on typology and tectonics, ecology, climate and materials. Their study resulted in a major report, which was featured in the September 1968 issue of “Architectural Record".
  • Vastukatha: Selected Sayings of Architect Muzharul Islam | বাস্তুকথা: স্থপতি মাজহারুল ইসলামের নির্বাচিত উক্তি, Edited by Kazi Khaleed Ashraf and Saif Ul Haque, Published by BI Books -Bengal Publications [10]
  • Muzharul Islam Architect, Edited by Fuad H Mallick, Zainab Faruqui Ali[11]
  • স্থপতি মাজহারুল ইসলাম, সম্পাদনা - আবুল হাসনাত[12]


  • "Symbol for what? Symbol of what? Symbol of whom?... The hesitation in my mind has deep roots. I feel that human society has been kept in darkness for thousands of years by the use of symbols. I revolt against it. By raising the issue of symbols, in the name of symbols, my perspective has been kept limited."
  • "Cities should provide the environment for civilized life within the context of our own culture... The city can develop only as a part of the physical environment of the country- with the ultimate aim of abolishing all differences between the city and the rural areas. The traditional relationship with nature (still existing to a certain extent in the village of Bangladesh) should be continued in the cities."
  • "The artistic qualities are essence of architecture. The practical aspects of architecture are measurable – such as, the practical requirements, climatic judgements, the advantages and limitations of the site etc. – but the humanistic aspects are not measurable. This depends on the talent, sensitivity and creativity of the architect. Only some bookish knowledge is not a sufficient tool in this regard. One has to be creative. One has to love his own land, its people and its culture and think profoundly about these. The love of one's own land is the eternal source of creative power, which in turn, makes a proper architect."
  • "You have to be a world man and a Bengali. It's impossible otherwise... When I mention standing on one's own soil... it is to find oneself, but not to find oneself and become stagnant. What I am seeking is to stand on one's own feet and then to proceed forward. If for that reason I have to take two steps backward to go one step forward. I have no problem with that. I think that there is no other way of moving forward."

See alsoEdit


  • Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury (20 July 2003). "Harmony of Vision". The Daily Star.


  1. ^ "The passing of Muzharul Islam". The Daily Star. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  2. ^ Syed Abrar (21 October 2005). "A Modern Bangali Architect". Star Weekend Magazine. The Daily Star.
  3. ^ a b Muzharul Islam Archive
  4. ^ a b c d Mainul Hassan (27 December 2009). "Architect Mazharul Islam turns eighty-six". The Daily Star.
  5. ^ a b c Kazi Khaleed Ashraf, "Mazharul Islam, Kahn and Architecture in Bangladesh", MIMAR 31: Architecture in Development, page 57, Aga Khan Trust for Culture, 1989
  6. ^ Shivangi Ambani Gandhi, "Poetry in Architecture", Bangladeshi Architects in Australia
  7. ^ "Government of the people's republic of Bangladesh". Brands of the World. Archived from the original on 27 June 2006.[user-generated source]
  8. ^ Farhana Urmee (24 December 2010). "The Journey of a Dreamer". Star Weekend Magazine. The Daily Star.
  9. ^ "Mazharul Islam passes away". The Daily Star. 15 July 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Vastukatha বাস্তুকথা" (in English and Bengali). BI Books - Bengal Publications. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  11. ^ "Muzharul Islam Architect | The University Press Limited". UPL The University Press Ltd. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  12. ^ বেঙ্গল পাবলিকেশন্‌‌স » স্থপতি মাজহারুল ইসলাম (in Bengali). Bengal Publications. Retrieved 22 October 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • Wares, Shamsul, Architecture in the 50s and 60s in Bangladesh, Architecture and Planning, BUET, 1982, Dhaka
  • Kazi Khaleed Ashraf, Mazharul Islam, Kahn and Architecture in Bangladesh, 1989
  • Zainab F Ali and Fuad H Mallick, Muzharul Islam Architect, BRAC University Press 2011

External linksEdit