Emek Theater inching toward ‘renovation’
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
According to the renovation project, the theater will turn into a location for festivals just like the Kodak Theater.The construction firm and the architect responsible for the renovation of Istanbul’s Emek Theater and Cercle d’Orient building have dismissed concerns recently raised by the Chamber of Architects about the project and outlined plans to “move” the theater.
Levent Eyüpoğlu, a partner with the company leading the renovation project, Kamer Construction, said the reason why they remained silent so far was due to the possibility that anything they might say could be detrimental to them during a trial process.
A court recently annulled a stay of execution decision on the renovation of Emek Theater and Cercle d’Orient based on an experts’ report that said the renovation of the buildings according to the preliminary project prepared by Kamer Construction was viable. Only one of the experts said the plan was viable, while two others on the panel expressed disagreement.
The chamber had said a report related to the project and connected to Istanbul Technical University’s Working Capital Fund and issued under the guidance of a member of the university’s academic staff was dubious. Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay had said the Renovation Committee working under the ministry authorized the preliminary project based on this report. However, the issuing date of the report was March 8, while the date the committee authorized the project was March 5, the chamber announced afterwards.
Questioning the legitimacy of the report, the chamber also said they were told by the university that the report was a contract between one of its academics and his “employer” and that the university was unconnected to the matter.
“It is true that our project was authorized on March 5 and we got the report on March 8 from Professor Kutgün Eyüpgiller on our demand for an analysis of the mentioned buildings so that we would have scientific data before we start such a complicated renovation process,” said Fatih Kesgün, the architect in charge of the proposed renovation. “This report was to clarify our own studies; it was not for the authorization of the preliminary project, so there is no dubious conduct.”
Kesgün also said Günay had confused the authorization decision with that of the restoration project. The authorization decision for the restoration project quotes the technical report given by Eyüpgiller, who was also hired by the firm as a consultant for the renovation project after giving the report.
Rented from fund
Because Eyüpgiller was hired by the firm as a consultant for the renovation project after giving the report, this means the renovation committee authorized a project counseled by an academic based on the same scholar’s viability report. Kamer Construction rented the buildings in 1993 from Emekli Sandığı, the social security fund for civil servants which is now united under the roof of the Social Security Institution with other security funds. The company has been split between different partners then. The renting process was criticized by the chamber during the trial process because it initially lacked the mandatory permission from the Protection Committee for Cultural and Natural Wealth. The chamber said because this permission was received only in 2007, the renting protocol was invalid.
Replying to the charge, Eyüpoğlu said that as an entrepreneur willing to invest considerable capital in the project, they had received all necessary permissions.
The chamber also said the initial preliminary project prepared in 1993 for the first application to the Renovation Committee was considered an inseparable part of the protocol for dealing with the building; however, it was annulled by a court decision at the time on the grounds that this also rendered the protocol invalid.
Kesgün said this claim was also made to the court by the chamber but added that the court had denied that the claim was a relevant part of the case. But the chamber’s lawyer, Can Atalay, said they had submitted the claim to the court but added that it had not yet discussed the matter.
Emek theater to be ‘moved’
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Elaborating on the renovation project, Kesgün said it would employ a technique called “moving.”
The method includes a very complicated procedure to carry the inner decorations of the theater three stories up and then demolishing what remains.
“We are making moulds of every single piece, in case that during the moving we might lose one of them. Even if that happens, we assure you that we will be perfectly capable of remaking it,” he said.
The weakness of the theater’s structural support made its conservation in its present location too costly even when compared with the “moving,” Eyüpoğlu said.
He aldded they also wanted to move the theater for sustainability reasons. “We would like to make this hall a location for festivals like the Kodak Theater. So we are adding more theater halls.”
According to the project, the Cercle d’Orient building will be restored to its original; its lower stories will be given over to shops while the upper stories will be converted either into offices or a hotel.
The company is preparing to acquire a construction license from the municipality, which will lead to the end of Emek Theater in its present form.