As political questions behind Pakistan's emergence distilled themselves into aesthetic questions of how to represent a country without a past, the debate erupted through the spatial practices determining the form and architectural character of the nation's two capitols. President Ayub Khan's two ambitious urban projects—Islamabad, the new capital city of Pakistan and Ayub-Nagar (renamed Sher-e-Bangla Nagar), and a second capitol complex in East Pakistan—brought together local and foreign stakeholders with differing interpretations of the idea of “Pakistan.” A significant part of each project's documentation lies far from its site—with the University of Pennsylvania, in the personal papers of Louis Kahn, the US-based architect whose firm designed each. This collection—a vital resource to consider the expanded meaning of architecture, not as an end product, but as a process—emerges as a crucial body of evidence for the evolution of multiple narratives of the political idea of Pakistan. The design process, as documented in sketches, architectural drawings, reports, and correspondence, reflects the frictions created from unfulfilled expectations and the subsequent disillusionment of vested interest groups, shedding new light on constructions of the past and future in postindependence Pakistan.

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