Historic university building in Istanbul awaits restoration three years after fire

Historic university building in Istanbul awaits restoration three years after fire

Gülseven Özkan – ISTANBUL
Historic university building in Istanbul awaits restoration three years after fire The 142-year-old Galatasaray University building, which burned down in 2013, has been longing for a complete restoration and patience is running out, the university’s rector Prof. Ertuğrul Karsak has told daily Hürriyet in an interview.

The restoration process hung back without project confirmation from the regional cultural preservation board as the building’s fate became more unclear with the resignation of the project’s owner, architect Sinan Genim.

Karsak however said temporary roof construction work began with the help of about 1 million Turkish Liras from the university’s budget.

“We had wanted to begin restoration in summer 2015. When Genim resigned, the project came to a deadlock and we concentrated on building a temporary roof, as the preservation board originally requested. The works began with a 1 million [lira] budget in late October. The roof is expected to be finished later this month,” Karsak said.

The rector also explained the main reason behind the divergence with the preservation board, saying the board wanted to protect it in any case while the architect defended that they could not rebuild the historical building along its original vision as it was constructed 150 years ago.

He added that he had no worries about alternative uses of the building such as a hotel, urging for an immediate restoration process with or without the current architect.

Karsak said the university had collected a total of 4.6 million liras in donations, so financial resources were not an issue. He also said divergences between the preservation board and the university should be put aside for the restoration.

“It has really been for a while and everyone ran out of patience. The restoration works should immediately begin. We need to find a solution without making it a personal issue and by putting divergences aside. We aim to make revisions on the project before Jan. 22, [2016], complete the restoration within two years and make it ready for education,” Karsak concluded, giving a timeframe ahead of marking the third year since the fire.

The historic university building caught fire on Jan. 22, 2013, and spread quickly because the building, originally called Feriye Palace and built in 1871, was made of wood. Extinguishing the fire took nearly five hours despite the fire department’s land and sea approaches to the blaze. However, there were claims officials began signing reports after the initial fire was controlled only a few minutes before the roof of the building caught fire and eventually collapsed.