This magnificent red stone structure built in the Renaissance style is among the most imposing buildings of Karachi. In the beginning it used to be called the Judicial Commissioner’s Court and its construction commenced in 1923 at the time of the separation of Sindh from the Bombay Presidency. It was the first building of prominence to be built in the 200-acre Artillery Maidan quarter.
The design was prepared in the office of the consulting architect to the government of Bombay and its architect was George Wittet. He is widely credited for popularising Indo-Saracenic style of architecture in the subcontinent. The other members of the team were A.J.A. Illingworth and Woods Hill. Wittet is the one who designed the beautiful Karachi Port Trust offices as well.
The Judicial Commissioner’s Court was completed at a cost of Rs.3.055million and declared open on 22 Nov, 1929 by the then Governor of Bombay, Frederick Hugh Sykes. Actually the area where the building is constructed, then known as King’s Way, was supposed to be the then civic centre of the city and it was planned that all major public buildings were to be located in this vicinity. The building was initially built to accommodate five judges, which was later expanded. In 1974 an annex building was constructed at a cost of Rs.4.4million to create more space but it did not provide ample space for official work.
The building has several interesting characteristics including ionic columns and rectilinear windows. One feature which is readily noticeable is that its ground level is quite raised, making its staircase look striking. With its magnificent cupolas, balconies and tall Roman style columns the edifice gives a magnificent impression. The flight of steps in front of the building leading up to the first storey and the characteristic façade, impart great dignity to this building. It is one of the landmarks of architectural brilliance in Pakistan and adds value to the city. TW