The internationally-renowned architecture and design firm REX recently has completed the Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center in Istanbul, Turkey. The project will serve as corporate headquarters of Vakko (Turkey’s preeminent fashion house) and Power Media (Turkey’s best-known music and television network). It was built based on the existing abandoned hotel’s structure, REX divided the project into two structurally independent components – The outer ring concrete skeleton and the center ring for a set of steel boxes named the Showcase, it also acts to serve the circulation path that winds from bottom to top of the Showcase.
+ Project description courtesy of REX
REX ARCHITECTURE P.C., an internationally renowned architecture and design firm announced completion of the new headquarters and production studios for Turkey’s preeminent fashion and media sister companies, representing the newest example of the firm’s innovative adaptive-reuse approaches to architecture. The Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center transformed the abandoned skeleton of an unfinished hotel project in Istanbul to create one of the most significant new additions to Turkey’s contemporary architectural landscape.
The structure will serve as corporate headquarters of Vakko, Turkey’s preeminent fashion house, including offices, showrooms, conference rooms and auditorium spaces. The headquarters for Power Media, Turkey’s best-known music and television network, includes television studios, radio production facilities and screening rooms.
The unfinished Istanbul hotel was not the only repurposed key element of the project. REX’s adaptive-reuse expertise enabled it to modify plans from another canceled project in the United States, allowing construction to begin only four days after REX received the commission.
When the CEO of Vakko and Power Media approached REX to design and construct a corporate headquarters within one year using the abandoned skeleton of an unfinished hotel, the requested design and construction timetable would normally have been unthinkable. Fortuitously, the unfinished hotel had the same plan dimension, floor-to-floor height and servicing concept as REX’s design for the California Institute of Technology’s Annenberg Center, which had recently been canceled. By adapting construction documents produced for the Annenberg Center to the abandoned concrete hotel skeleton, REX was able to direct the start of construction just four days after Vakko and Power Media first approached the firm.
REX divided the project into two structurally independent components. The “U-shaped” concrete skeleton—completed by a fourth side—is dubbed the Ring, and contains conventional, flexible office space. At the Ring’s center, a new six-floor steel tower—named the Showcase—contains unique programs, including an auditorium, showrooms, meeting rooms and executive offices, as well as all vertical circulation and restrooms. By separating the structure into these two independent components, a time-consuming forensic analysis of the existing concrete skeleton was rendered unnecessary while the structural design of the Showcase was simplified. The resultant savings in time allowed construction to start immediately on the existing skeleton while simultaneously providing an eight-week period to design the rest of the building.
Given only two weeks after initiating design to submit the Showcase’s steel order, REX and its engineers designed a set of steel boxes that could be assembled in myriad configurations. This strategy allowed the steel shapes and quantities to be ordered from the steel mill before the final Showcase design was complete. Ultimately, space use requirements, code restrictions, and a circulation path winding from bottom to top of the tower dictated the final stacking of the boxes.
A beautiful and refined architectural image was critical to maintaining Vakko/Power’s public profile; yet, the clumsy structure of the abandoned hotel was impossible to hide given the project’s compressed schedule. REX embraced this constraint by designing an exceptionally transparent and thin glass façade for the Ring. By slumping a structural “X” into each pane to increase the glass’s strength, the glass’s thickness was reduced and the need for perimeter mullions was eliminated. The resulting ethereal glass “Saran Wrap” subtly reveals the Ring’s pre-existing concrete skeleton and suggests the Showcase behind. The Showcase, meanwhile, is clad in mirror-glass, cloaking the steel boxes with a mirage-like exterior, and enlivening the building’s interior to kaleidoscopic effect.
By innovatively reusing an existing structure, REX reconciled the normally competing requirements for speed and design excellence in the Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center. The result is a unique example of adaptive reuse, and a new architectural landmark for Turkey.
+ Project credits / data
PROJECT: Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center
LOCATION: Istanbul, Turkey
AREA: 9,100 m² (98,000 sf)
STATUS: Completed 2010
CLIENTS: Vakko and Power Media
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
KEY PERSONNEL: Erez Ella, Tomas Janka, Mathias Madaus, David Menicovich, Tsuyoshi Nakamoto, Joshua Prince-Ramus, Ishtiaq Rafiuddin, Tieliu Wu
CONSULTANTS: ARTE, Autoban, Buro Statik, Cedetas, Dora, Eleksis, Front, Gurmen Muhendislik, Lamglass, Norm Tecnic, Say Yapi, STEP, Superpool, Cem Mimarlik
PHOTOGRAPH: Iwan Baan, REX
+ About REX
REX is an internationally acclaimed architecture and design firm based in New York City. In addition to the Vakko Fashion Center and Power Media Center in Istanbul, Turkey, REX recently completed the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas, Texas. Current work includes Museum Plaza, a 62-story mixed-use skyscraper housing a contemporary art center in Louisville, Kentucky; the new Central Library and Music Conservatory for the city of Kortrijk, Belgium; and a 2.6 million square-foot luxury residential development in Songdo Landmark City, South Korea. Notably, within the past year REX received second prize in both the international competition for the new Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, and the Finnish Innovation Fund’s Low2No sustainable development competition in Helsinki, Finland.
Joshua Prince-Ramus is Principal of REX and leads all projects. Prince-Ramus was the founding partner of OMA New York—the American affiliate of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in the Netherlands—and served as its Principal until he renamed the firm REX in 2006. While REX was still known as OMA New York, Prince-Ramus was Partner in Charge of the Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas and the Seattle Central Library, hailed as Time magazine’s 2004 Building of the Year and by Herbert Muschamp in The New York Times as “the most exciting new building it has been my honor to review in more than 30 years of writing about architecture.” In 2005, the Seattle Central Library was awarded the top honors bestowed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and the American Library Association (ALA).
Prince-Ramus was recently described as the “savior of American architecture” by Esquire magazine. Additionally, he was identified as one of “The 20 Essential Young Architects” by ICON magazine, as one of the world’s most influential young architects by Wallpaper*, and as one of the twenty most influential players in design by Fast Company. Prince-Ramus is a member of the TED Brain Trust—along with thinkers such as Bill Gates, Craig Venter, Dean Kamen, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin—and was a speaker at the TED2006 and TEDxSMU conferences. Videos of Prince-Ramus’ TEDTalks, in which he describes REX’s process and the designs of the Seattle Central Library, the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, and Museum Plaza, can be found at www.ted.com.
Prince-Ramus received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy with distinction from Yale University in 1991 and a Master of Architecture from Harvard University in 1996, where he was both an SOM fellow and the first Araldo Cossutta Fellow. Prince-Ramus was the Eero Saarinen Visiting Professor at the Yale School of Architecture and a visiting professor at both Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. He will be a visiting professor at the Syracuse University School of Architecture in the Fall of 2010. Prince-Ramus is an NCARB-certified architect, and holds licenses in Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and the Netherlands.