In Istanbul, a Financial Center by HOK

Suburban Istanbul is about to undergo an extreme makeover.

Architects at HOK, their master plan for a new financial center in Atasehir approved, are now moving into the design phase.

Six government-owned banks will be moving there from Ankara, forming a hub for 45 million square feet of mixed-used development on 170 acres.  About 40 tall buildings will eventually rise there, each with a commanding view of a bridge over the Bosphorus.   

Because the land there is government-owned, its development will spare demolition in any of Istanbul’s historic districts.  About eight million cubic meters of soil there will be moved to the third bridge area of the city.

The development is not without ambition.  Its precedents can be found in developments like Canary Wharf in London, La Defense in Paris and the financial district of Dubai.  Plans call for it to become a global financial center for Istanbul, which, with 13.5 million people, is second in population only to Shanghai.

“The idea is to create a real sense of place and a real city in the financial district,” says Bill Hellmuth, president at HOK.  “There’ll be residential and retail – all the uses you’d want to have.”

Financial institutions, including government offices for its stock exchange and related functions, will be housed in 18 tall buildings.  Each bank will select its own architect, with HOK and KPF already lined up.   Eight structures are reserved for residential use, with a convention center, two hotels and a public library also planned.

“All will be connected at a podium level,” he says.  “You’ll be walking around, feeling like you’re on terra firma, but there’ll be four levels for parking, services, subway, bus and truck stops below.”

Materials include glass, steel and especially stone, since Turkey is the fourth largest producer of granite, marble and limestone in the world.

HOK’s master plan, though, is mostly concerned with how the new development will deal with human scale, movement and interaction.  “There are rules for proportions and pedestrians,” he says.  “It’s about how the buildings meet the sky, and how you move through it all.”

And Istanbul, with its mosques, palaces and Hagia Sophia, is chock-full of precedents for that.

For more information, go here.

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