You have to hand it to Dror Benshetrit: When strategic thinking is not enough, the New York-based designer relies on perseverance.
Turned down for an opportunity to develop a master plan for a cruise ship terminal at Galataport on the Bosporus in Istanbul, he stepped up his game.
“The client said: ‘Forget about it – your team is too small, and we’re inviting big firms that handle projects of this scale,’” he says. “But I thought: ‘Large projects need innovative thinking, and you don’t need size until you start building.’”
So he approached Gensler about the project. “They are amazing collaborators – an amazing machine with in-house knowledge,” he says.
The challenge of designing a cruise ship terminal is massive, requiring space for 120 buses and 5,000 to 6,000 passengers at once. “And there’s a lot of garbage to collect and repairs to make, and security and immigration issues,” he says. “The essence was also that they want it to be a site that’s open for the public to see and enjoy the beauty of the Bosporus.”
The solution from Gensler and Dror: Take it below sea level. So when a ship docks, a gigantic boardwalk opens up hydraulically, responds to ship size and becomes a secure wall around it. Once it’s secure, a huge gangway drops down to bring passengers straight down to basement level, and the boardwalk closes. Buses will then spirit them away to the sights and sounds of Istanbul.
“They gain a tremendous amount of space for offices above ground – and by taking it below sea level, you take all the transportation vehicles away from the street,” he says. “Above it all is pedestrian traffic.”
It’s under construction now, with an anticipated completion in 2019 – though, given the nature of the region, anything could happen until then. “It’s a historic site and if they find valuable, important things, it could be put on hold,” he says. “And then there’s the political instability of the region.”
Still, it’s a winner today – and a monument to perseverance.
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