Punjab Assembly Building

Seen from Sharah-e-Quaid-e-Azam (the Upper Mall), though the Anglo-Mughal pavilion seems to have been dwarfed by the tall Islamic Summit Minar, at its rear stands the dignified structure of the Punjab Assembly Building. Occupying one of the most prestigious locations after the transformation and realigning of the Charing Cross streets, the presence of the assembly building symbolized the first step towards self-determination. Its construction was begun in 1935, to coincide with Government of India Act 1935, under which the first Legislative Assembly of the Punjab was established, and Sir Shahabuddin elected as its first speaker. The construction was completed in 1938. Its foundation stone was laid down by Sir Jogindar Singh, Minister for Agriculture, in November, 1935.

At present the importance of the assembly is somewhat compromised, flanked as it is on one side by Edward Stone's white fantasy WAPDA House and nondescript Alfalah Building on the other, and facing the Islamic Summit Minar constructed in 1977 to commemorate the first conference of Islamic countries (1974). At the time of its construction, however, viewed beyond the elegant Victoria Memorial pavilion, the Punjab Assembly held a commanding position on the vast expanse of Charing Cross square.

The Punjab Assembly is a two-storey building, with a central projecting portico composed of giant columns rising to the full height of the building. Although the columns carry Ionic capitals, influenced by the international movement in Europe and USA, an architectural ensemble of simplicity and grace was created. The composition presents a unified appearance, capped by a sloping roof, while the portico, faced with soft pink stone, carries a distinctive roof. Situated amongst an expanse of open space, it retains a commanding position on Charing Cross.

The building, constructed at a cost of Rs. 246,030, was designed to accommodate 271 members in its semi-circular assembly hall. Other facilities include members' lobby, visitors' gallery and press gallery, as well as offices for ministers and staff. The building also houses an impressive collection of books on legislative matters.

It was fitting that the architect of the master plan of Charing Cross, Basil M. Sullivan, should also have been the architect for this building.

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