When India won independence from the British in 1947, Pakistan and India were partitioned. The Punjab was divided and its capital, Lahore, was lost to Pakistan. Soon, East Punjabs population was quickly doubled by the flood of refugees from Pakistan. In March 1948 the provincial government, in consultation with the Indian central government and the enthusiastic support of Prime Minister Pandit Nehru, approved a new 45-square-mile 114-square-kilometer capital site on a sloping plain near the Shivalik foothills. Designed by an international team under the leadership of Le Corbusierit was his only realized urban planning schemethe new city introduced India to a modern architectural and urbanistic idiom. Named for one of the two dozen existing villages in the area, Chandigarh, about 150 miles 240 kilometers north of New Delhi, has been calledone of the most significant urban planning experiments of the twentieth century and asymbol of planned urbanism.
The Punjab government, on the crest of a wave of nationalism, probably would have preferred to commission Indian professionals, but none was suitably qualified. In December 1949 it approached the New York architect-planner Albert Mayer, who was then engaged on master plans for Greater Bombay and Kanpur. He accepted the Chandigarh brief: a master plan for a city of 500,000, detailed designs for selected buildings, and planning controls for adjacent areas. He assembled an expert consultancy team and involved Matthew Nowicki as codesigner. Their fan-shaped plan sat between two seasonal riverbeds that crossed the site. The seat of the state government was at its head, and the city center was located at its heart. Two linear parklands ran from the northeast head of the plan to its southwest tip, and a curving road network definedsuperblock neighborhood units like those of Bras