The firm's chiseled office building will mark the eastern gate to the city.

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A 606-ft-high chiseled obelisk designed by FXFOWLE, New York City, will delineate the eastern entrance to Istanbul when construction finishes in July 2014. Renaissance Tower, as the office building will be known, is being developed by Ankara-based Renaissance Construction Co., which plans to lease most of the 914,900-sq-ft high-rise.

Located on the Asian side of Istanbul, the 44-story tower will be a highly visible landmark in this city of roughly 12 million people. Situated in the developing commercial hub of Kozyatagi at the intersection of Istanbul’s two major motorways, the tower “feels like the gateway to the east of the city, on a piece of land that is basically a free-standing in-the-round site,” said FXFOWLE design partner Dan Kaplan.

The project is FXFOWLE’s first in Turkey. Renaissance, which got its start in Russia and has branched into commercial development in Turkey, “sought us out for this prime site,” said Kaplan. According to project manager Arda Cotuk, Renaissance Real Estate Investment Co. purchased the land five years ago and, after rejecting various designs and functions, decided to construct the landmark office building conceived by FXFOWLE. New York City-based Desimone is the structural engineer for the project; Cosentini is serving as the MEP consultant.

The geometric shapes of Islamic architecture and the morphemic forms of Cappadocia inspired the building’s design. “We were completely taken by Istanbul,” said Kaplan. “Our strong desire to do something ‘Turkish’ supported the chiseled, tapering form. We wanted to make something that was part of the place,” he said, noting the constant struggle to reconcile a modern, class-A high-rise with a historical setting. He added that a scrim made of perforated panels colored in gold and copper will cover most of the glass building. While transparent, this metallic veil will help mitigate solar gain.

Inside, the architects included atriums and ceiling heights up to 11 ft—considerably higher than the Turkish average of nine feet. With the building designed to achieve LEED-Silver certification, sustainable features include graywater recycling, ample daylight  and an under-floor air-distribution system that allows each occupant to control his or her working environment. “Usually in high-rises, people complain of being too hot or too cold,” said Kaplan. “This building strives to provide human ergonomic comfort as well as sustainability.” It also aims to be seismically sound: Outrigger steel bracing in the center of the building will absorb lateral earthquake loads.

FXFOWLE is collaborating with Turkish architect Fehmi Kobal, who studied at the University of Virginia and has worked on commercial projects in Istanbul.  “We have a group of people with a foot in both cultures who developed a very good esprit de corps,” said Kaplan. “That certainly doesn’t happen all the time, and it makes for a better building.”

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