Pride of Pakistan – Architect: Yasmeen Lari
Yasmeen Lari is the first woman architect of Pakistan. She obtained a degree in architecture from the London based institute The Oxford School of Architecture. In 1964, she opened her office in Karachi. At that time there were very few qualified architects with Lari being the only female. Besides intelligence, creativity and sensitivity, family support played an important part in Lari’s successful career which spanned over 35 years. Lari has designed private residences and commercial buildings like the Reagent Plaza Hotel Karachi (Formerly Taj Mahal Hotel), PSO Building, Finance and Trade Centre (FTC) Building Karachi, ABN Amro Bank Building, Naval Officers Housing Karachi and Angoori Bagh Housing. Angoori Bagh is a settlement for the low income group people. Lari was particularly interested in designing low cost houses for poor people; she visited the slum areas of Karachi, interviewed people and produced a quality housing scheme according to their needs and budget.
Another milestone in Ms. Lari’s career is the preservation of old buildings. Some old buildings in Karachi are classic examples of architecture of that era; these buildings were either decaying due to negligence or were being demolished for new projects. Ms. Lari an avid admirer of old architecture founded the Heritage Foundation Pakistan with the help of other like minded people and philanthropists. The objective of this organization was to preserve and protect old buildings, monuments and other historically significant objects all over Pakistan. Her efforts bore fruits when in Karachi alone, 600 buildings were declared legally protected by the government. Her organization Heritage Foundation was involved in the conservation of Shish Mahal Lahore Fort. Heritage Foundation won the Recognition Award by the United Nations. The government of Pakistan awarded her Sitara-e- Imtiaz, the highest civilian award.
Ms. Lari is a co-author and an author of many books. She is currently serving UNESCO as an advisor in the historical preservation project.
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