The CEO of Vakko (Turkey’s preeminent fashion house) and Power Media (Turkey’s equivalent of MTV) approached REX with plans to design and construct a new headquarters by the year’s end using an existing, unfinished hotel. By adapting Construction Documents produced for REX’s canceled Annenberg Center—which fortuitously shares the same plan dimension, floor-to-floor height, and servicing concept as the concrete hotel skeleton—construction on the perimeter office block commenced only four days after Vakko/Power first approached REX. This adaptive re-use opened a six-week window during which the more unique portions of the program could be designed simultaneous to construction. Speed became the design’s most significant parameter.
Vakko/Power’s existing “Ring” is painfully over-designed, the byproduct of numerous, deadly earthquakes in Turkey. Therefore Vakko/Power’s unique interior must remain detached so as not to disrupt the structural integrity and waterproofing of the in situ skeleton. Dubbed the “Showcase,” this unique interior houses the auditorium, showrooms, meeting rooms, and executive offices, as well as all vertical circulation and restrooms. REX had only two weeks to submit the steel mill order after starting the project. Therefore, a concept for the Showcase was developed that established the general steel shapes and quantities while still allowing the design to evolve significantly. To this end, REX and its engineers devised steel boxes that could be assembled in myriad configurations while retaining the Showcase’s structural self-sufficiency. Ultimately, program adjacencies and code/exiting requirements dictated the final stacking of the boxes. The slopes of the auditorium, museum, and meeting rooms create a circulation path that winds from top to bottom of the Showcase. The Showcase is clad in mirror-glass, cloaking the steel boxes with a mirage-like exterior, and enlivening the building’s interior to kaleidoscopic effect .
A beautiful and refined architectural image was critical to maintaining Vakko/Power’s public profile; yet, the clumsy structure of the abandoned hotel was impossible to hide given the project’s compressed schedule. REX embraced this constraint by designing an exceptionally transparent and thin glass façade for the Ring. By slumping a structural “X” into each pane, the glass’s strength is increased, its need for perimeter mullions is eliminated, and its thickness is reduced. The result is an ultra-thin sheath of glass that wraps the existing skeleton. This ethereal “Saran Wrap” subtly reveals the pre-existing concrete skeleton and suggests the Showcase behind.