When Caltech’s senior administration suddenly changed REX’s design for the Annenberg Center for Information Science and Technology, the project was canceled. Two months later, the CEO of Vakko (Turkey’s pre-eminent fashion house) and Power Media (Turkey’s equivalent of MTV) approached REX with plans to design and construct a new headquarters by the year’s end using an unfinished, abandoned hotel. The requested timetable would normally have been absurd. However, the unfinished building fortuitously had the same plan dimension, floor-to-floor height and servicing concept as the Annenberg Center’s “Ring” (the so-called “Sheep”).
By adapting the construction documents produced for the Annenberg Center to the abandoned concrete hotel skeleton, construction on the perimeter office block was able to commence only four days after Vakko/ Power first approached REX with the project. This adaptive re-use opened a six-week time window, during which the more unique portions of the program could be designed simultaneously with the ongoing construction. Speed became the design’s most significant parameter. Whereas the Annenberg Center’s Ring was a fragile, post-tensioned concrete structure which depended upon the robust, steel interior for support, Vakko/Power’s existing Ring is painfully over-designed – the byproduct of numerous, deadly earthquakes in Turkey.
The design problem is therefore reversed: Vakko/Power’s unique interior must remain detached, so as not to disrupt the structural integrity and waterproofing of the in-site skeleton. Dubbed the “Showcase,” this unique interior houses the auditorium, showrooms, meeting rooms, and executive offices, as well as all vertical circulation and restrooms. Meanwhile, the upper floor of the skeleton’s subterranean parking houses Power Media’s television and radio studios, which require acoustic damping and light control.
REX only had two weeks to submit the steel mill order after starting the project. Therefore, a concept for the Showcase was developed, establishing the general steel shapes and quantities while still allowing the design to evolve significantly. To this end, REX and its engineers devised steel boxes that could be assembled in myriad configurations while retaining the Showcase’s structural self-sufficiency.
Ultimately, program adjacencies and code/exiting requirements dictated the final stacking of the boxes. The slopes of the auditorium, showrooms, and meeting rooms create a circulation path that winds from the bottom to the top of the Showcase. The Showcase is clad in mirror-glass, creating a “Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” that both repeats and fractures the image of the
Creating an exceptional new headquarters was critical to maintaining Vakko/Power’s public image; yet, absorption of the clumsy, existing structure was impossible to hide, given the time constraints. REX therefore proposed to make the glass façade as thin and immaterial as possible, so that the existing hotel skeleton is exposed, not hidden. By slumping a structural “X” into each pane, the glass’s strength is increased, its need for perimeter mullions is eliminated and its thickness is reduced. The result is an ultra-thin sheath of glass that wraps the existing skeleton. This ethereal “Saran Wrap” subtly reveals the pre-existing concrete
skeleton and suggests the Showcase behind.
Project team: Erez Ella, Tomas Janka, Mathias Madaus, David Menicovich, Tsuyoshi Nakamoto, Joshua Prince- Ramus, Ishtiaq Rafiuddin, Tieliu Wu
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Program: Headquarters for a Turkish
fashion house—including offices, showrooms, conference rooms, auditorium, museum, and dining hall—as well as the television studios, radio production facilities, and screening rooms of its media sister-company
Gross floor area: 9,100m²
Consultants: ARTE, Autoban, Buro Statik, Cedetas, Dora, Eleksis, Front, Gurmen Muhendislik, Lamglass, Norm Tecnic, Say Yapi, STEP, Superpool, Cem Mimarlik
Client: Vakko and Power Media
Written and material provided by REX | Photographs by Iwan Baan | Edited by Kim Sang-ho