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An Unusual Topping Out

Turkey Architecture News - Jul 20, 2018 - 08:49   16191 views

An Unusual Topping Out

The Turkish İşbank Headquarters Towers were built by Tepe/Turner Joint-Venture (JV), between 1998 - 2001 in Istanbul. 

We talked with Hasan Barutçu and Selçuk Alten, the Managing Director and the General Manager respectively, of the contractor TEPE Construction Company during this project. “It was a real experience” said Alten for the İşbank towers construction “with many first time applications.”

"First of all, with a height of 180 meters, it was then the tallest building in the region covering from Dubai to Frankfurt. Of course, now in the past twenty years, many high buildings have been built in Istanbul, but this building being the first, created a challenge in itself. The Project Management of the construction was led by our joint venture partner Turner Construction and we learned a lot from them. As a matter of fact, this experience gave us the courage to establish our own Construction Projects Management Company Pro-GE International Inc., successfully operating since eighteen years now.”

"This photograph (top of the page) brought us to many years back” said Barutçu. “It was one of the most interesting and spectacular topping out ceremonies in the history of construction industry. We owe a lot to A&B Communication Corp. who were our PR consultants for such an organization, with more than a hundred media representatives' attendance. The Grand Piano and the other instruments and equipment were lifted to the roof by tower cranes. At a height of 600 feet from the ground the famous jazz master, Kerem Görsev at the piano, and his colleagues Steve Kirby and Alvester Garnet performed the piece "Flying Notes" that Görsev composed for this event. The event was covered intensively also by the mainstream media. Several helicopters and the tower crane were used for the filming of the video sequence of the event." he continued. 

An Unusual Topping Out

Image credit: © Courtesy of Tepe Construction, Inc.

After having been Istanbul's, Turkey's and the region's tallest building for many years, İşBank Towers are still a major component of the city’s silhouette today. Moreover, they were the “Most Intelligent Buildings” of their time with an automation system controlling a total of 42,000 points of which, 23,000 were digital and 19,000 were analogue. Both Barutçu and Alten, today Pro-GE's founders and top executives, quickly realized that high-rise buildings, contrary to general belief, require a different expertise and know-how, and gained their first and extensive experience during this important project, with the valuable contributions of Turner's technical teams.

Harboring various technical innovations, such as the panel façade system, practiced for the first time in Turkey, the project's location in the heart of the city, brought along a series of difficulties adversely affecting the construction activities. Administrative restrictions such as the traffic restrictions, difficulties in stocking and installation caused by the limited mobilization area, and other problems have all been surmounted by correctly identified construction methods, carefully monitored and updated construction programs.

The story of the İşBank HQ Towers, with its top quality of construction achieved in a record period of time for the period, is the result of a modern and professional cooperation environment, established by the employer, design groups, main contractor and subcontractors. This synergy was the main reason of the success of this mega-project in Turkey.

This is why, such an unusual project deserved an unusual Topping Out Ceremony. Please watch the short video of the "Flying Notes" by Kerem Görsev and his band, followed some of the behind the scene clips.

Video Credit: © Courtesy of Tepe Construction, Inc.

Project Profile

Client: Türkiye İş Bankası A.Ş.

Location: Levent, Istanbul / Turkey

Project Duration: 1996 - 2000

Main Contractor: Tepe / Turner JV

Project Description: Offices, bank, shopping mall, conference hall, exhibition hall, cafeteria in 3 towers (of 52, 34 and 34 floors).

Total Construction Area: 224,357 m²


2000 – Hillier / Design Award of Excellence - Society of American Registered Architects / New York

Project Core Team

Architectural Design: Doğan Tekeli, Turkey - Sami Sisa, Swanke Hayden Connell, USA

Interior Design: The Hillier Group

Structural Design: SEVERUD Associates, USA, Balkar Engineering - İrfan Balioğlu, Turkey

Mechanical Design: Jaros, Baum and Bolles Consulting Engineers, USA, Genel Mühendislik, Turkey

Electrical Design: CEDETAŞ Engineering, Turkey


Elevators, Escalators Consultant: John Van Deusen and Associates, Inc., USA

Lighting Consultant: Hillman Dibernardo and Associates, USA

Acoustics Consultant: Cerami and Associates, USA

Security Consultant: Schiff and Associates, USA

Top Image Credit: Topping Out of İşBank HQ Towers © Courtesy of Tepe Construction, Inc.

Sponsored by Pro-GE International, Inc.