SURFACES REPORTER (SR) team is deeply saddened to hear the passing of structural engineer Mahendra Raj, a man who is known for some of the most notable buildings in the country, including the Hall of Nations in Pragati Maidan, Salarjung Museum in Hyderabad, the Municipal Stadium and Sports Complex in Ahmedabad, besides several other architectural marvels. The distinguished engineer breathed his last and left for heavenly abode on Sunday morning at his residence in the national capital. The last rites were performed in the Lodhi Road crematorium on Sunday evening. As per some of his relatives and friends, his health was not in good condition for the last few years due to age-related ailments.
It was a great loss to the engineering fraternity. He was a gem known for his dynamic and noble personality. He was the man who helped turn the visions of almost all the recognized architects of Modern India, such as Charles Correa, Raj Rewal, BV Doshi, Le Corbusier, Joseph Stein and Kuldeep Singh, into reality. With his profound knowledge, skills, and substantial body of work, he paved the foundation of Modern India. He had been an active member of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers and won several awards and achievements.
Hall of Nations in Pragati Maidan | Pinterest
With Mahendra Raj's demise at the age of 97, a large void has been built in the domain of Indian Civil Engineering. He pioneered the use of innovative engineering solutions in architectural design. In his career span of six decades, he worked on more than 250 projects. Raj was a distinguished figure who walked with some of the renowned architects of Modern India to transform the city landscape of the post-independent era.
Salarjung Museum in Hyderabad | The Hans India
Born in Gujranwala in the Punjab state in undivided British India in 1924, Raj was one of eight children. He was born to a very lower-middle-class family and his father was also an engineer with the Punjab Public Works Department. Raj never dreamt of becoming a civil engineer but he fulfilled his father's desire who wanted all of his five sons to become civil engineers.
He earlier worked as an assistant design engineer in the Punjab Public Works Department (PWD) in 1946 in Chandigarh. It was the time when Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru had invited Corbusier to design the city. So, Raj, in collaboration with a senior engineer, assisted Corbusier in constructing the Punjab and Haryana High Court and Secretariat as part of Chandigarh's Capitol Complex.
Tagore Memorial Hall, Ahmedabad | Divisare
He has created many iconic projects in his long career span of 60 years, from Le Corbusier's sculptural high court in Chandigarh to BV Doshi's Tagore Memorial Hall, Ahmedabad, and Raj Rewal's Hall of Nations, Pragati Maidan, Delhi. His other remarkable projects include the NDMC building in Delhi, Salvacao Church in Mumbai, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (1964), Talkatora Indoor Stadium, New Delhi (1971-72), Indoor Sports Stadium, New Delhi (1979-82), Indian Embassy, Kuwait (1989-91), Centre for Science and Environment, Hyatt Regency, Goa (1999-2000), Lakeside Habitat View, Bengaluru (2004-05), Tahiliani Design Headquarters, Gurgaon(2006), Jaisalmer Airport, Rajasthan (2008-1011), to name a few. His work is considered pioneering for its spectacular engineering solutions for exposed concrete buildings.
Sculptural High Court in Chandigarh | Flickr
"Raj understood the intricacies of architectural designing like none else," said KT Ravindran, convener of INTACH Delhi, outlining Raj's wonderful contributions to architecture.
Talkatora Indoor Stadium, New Delhi | TOI
His close associate Ravindran said that Raj had excellent skills to comprehend what the architect wanted. He further noted that Raj is the principal structural engineer behind every remarkable building in Delhi. One of these is the Hall of Nations, which was demolished a few years back." Every remarkable large building that one can think of has been done by him."
Raj also helped establish the Consultancy Development Centre by creating regulations for the profession of engineers. This made the government set up the Engineering Council of India in 2002.
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