ARCHITECTURE IS A LANGUAGE

Asad I KhanArchitectural education should take into account the country's own peculiar situation and culture. Architecture is a language, and will always reflect the state of our society. If we are economically and technologically behind, our architecture will reflect that. Also, the quality of basic school education in the country has been going down, and there is only so much that professional schools can do to train, motivate and inspire kids to excel. Education is the key to access - aesthetics come with refined education so we first need education and then expect things to follow aesthetically and architecture as flourish. - Asad I. Khan

Asad I. A. Khan was born in Dhaka, then East Pakistan. He studied architecture at the National College of the Arts, Lahore graduated in 1978 and, after working briefly in Karachi, proceeded to the United States of America to obtain a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Illinois, Chicago. He returned to Pakistan and joined Nespak in 1985, proving by his multiple talents and engaging personality to be a successful professional. In 1999, he became Vice President to NESPAK to head the Architecture Planning Division at Karachi. Since 2009, he has been the Managing Director and President of Nespak, the first Architect head of the country's largest Engineering consultancy organization.

Apart from being a top manager, Asad has had the unique distinction of having been personally involved, as the lead designer, with a wide range of outstanding, and often award-winning, projects of national significance. These include, among others, the Prime Minister's House, the Prime Minister's Secretariat and the Naval Headquarters Complex in Islamabad; the Expo Centre, and the Sindh Islamic Centre Sukkur; and the Pakistan Embassy Complexes in Bangkok and Bahrain respectively.

He is an active golfer, having represented the country as Member of the National Golf Team at a number of international events. He is also a keen hunter, and a collector of art and artifacts. Asad I. A. Khan has an illustrious background, his father Mr. I. A. Khan was a top civil servant of the Indian Services era (ICS) and his grandfather, Nawab Ismail Khan, the name Asad carries, was amongst the founding fathers to our Country.

NESPAK Today
According to its Managing Director and President (architect) Asad I. A. Khan, National Engineering Services Pakistan (Pvt.) Limited, commonly referred to as NESPAK has, since its establishment in 1973, successfully completed and delivered about 3200 development projects in Pakistan and 36 projects in other countries, with a cumulative cost of over Rs. 7500 billion (US $ 176 billion). Over 2800 projects have been completed during this period, and work is in progress on 325 domestic and over 60 foreign projects.

By providing engineering and architecture services on these projects, NESPAK has earned total revenue exceeding Rs. 36 billion over the years, as well as substantial foreign exchange for the country. It employs about 1300 engineers of various specialties and over 80 architects and planners, with a total strength of over 3400.

Immediately after its establishment headquartered in Lahore nearly forty years ago, NESPAK undertook the design and construction supervision of gigantic projects including the 36" diameter steel-reinforced and concrete-lined Fifth Irrigation Tunnel at the Tarbela Dam Project, the Dera-Darya Khan Bridge Project on the River Indus, and Port Qasim near Karachi. Within a year, NESPAK also entered the international market and was awarded a large irrigation project in Nigeria (Africa). This established its professional credentials for projects abroad.

After successfully going through its formative period, rapidly growing and establishing itself as a major engineering firm, NESPAK has successfully exported engineering and architecture services to 36 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, several Arab countries and the Far East. Apart from its office in Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta, Nespak has in international this in Muscat, Riyadh, Seria, Iran and Kabul.

The advantage NESPAK continues to have over many other national and international consulting firms is that it provides a wide range of services in almost every field of engineering, architecture, planning and economic development, including water development resources, agriculture, industry, energy, transportation, communication, geotech, power environment, water supply and sanitation, oil and gas, airports, university campuses, major public buildings and complexes, and urban planning, all under one roof.

Asad I. Khan, Speaks to Mukhtar Husain & Murtuza Shikoh
Sitting casually around a coffee table over a lunch of pizza in his Architecture and Planning Division office at Nespak in Karachi, one can only admire Asad I. A. Khan, the Managing Director and President of one of the largest engineering/ architecture consulting firms in this region. Smart, talented and youthful in style in spite of his graying hair, I. A. Khan (IAK) exudes an air of confidence cultivated through his upbringing, education and exposure, be it on the drawing board, in the board-room or at the golf course.

IAK spoke at length to MS and MH about his years with the Company, its projects, its staff, their combined reputation and public image, and the challenges of managing a large public organization. It might interest the reader to know that MH was Head of the Architecture office of Nespak at Karachi in the early eighties when IAK applied for a job. It was MH who interviewed and selected him. It was obvious even then that IAK was 'made' for the top ranks.

Early Experience
"Before going to the US for my Master's, I worked with architect Surti & Partners in Karachi. Mr. Surti once asked me to develop the plan of a house with a large set of requirements. Nothing seemed to fall into place easily. With little choice, I finally came up with a plan and showed it to him. He thought it was in many ways violative of his design principles. Working with Mr. Surti was a very valuable experience and that is where I got my basic grooming.

He made various suggestions to me, then decided to take it into his office, perhaps hoping to work on it himself. One week later he came back, returned the plan to me and asked me to proceed with my design. He probably realized, as one often does, that what may appear easy at a glance may in fact be so constrained by limitations that one cannot do better. It is important to realise this in time, and to move on.