The Atatürk Cultural Center in Istanbul’s Taksim Square will finally undergo a thorough restoration and renovation. The building has been closed for 8 years already while the bureaucrats, politicians, engineers, architects and other experts were unable to make an agreement on the project. The TL 30 million (€13 million) project will be sponsored by the Turkish business conglomerate Sabancı Holding.
The austere, modernist structure houses Istanbul’s state orchestra, opera and ballet since its opening in 1969.
Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said: “This renovation is much more than a restoration, because it will bring the building in line with fire and earthquake codes, re-engineering the acoustics and the broader plan to pedestrianize Taksim Square.”
The restoration work of Atatürk Cultural Center is planned to start soon. The grand opening is planned for 29 October 2013, the Republic Day. The Grand Hall of Atatürk Cultural Center which hosts theater, opera and ballet performances will be named Sabancı Hall. The name of Atatürk Cultural Center will stay as it is.
Taking the floor at the signing ceremony, Sabancı Holding Chairman Güler Sabancı stated: “Atatürk Cultural Center is of utmost historical significance and value. It is a structure that symbolizes Republican values. Atatürk Cultural Center constitutes a very significant place in our hearts, in the art and culture events of the Republican history and in our beloved Taksim. We are grateful that we contribute to preserve a symbol of republican values for art lovers, staying faithful to the original yet with new technologies”.
Atatürk Cultural Center is an iconic multi purpose cultural center and opera house.The complex comprises the “Grand Stage”, a hall with a 1,307 seat capacity hosting theater acts of Turkish State Theaters and performances of the Turkish State Opera and Ballet, and the “Concert Hall”, a second hall with a capacity of 502 seats for concerts, meetings and conferences as well as an exhibition hall of 1,200 m² at the entrance. There are also the “Chamber Theater” with 296 seats, “Aziz Nesin Stage” with 190 seats and a cinema hall with 206 seats. The center is home to the Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra and Choir, Istanbul State Modern Folk Music Ensemble, and Istanbul State Classical Turkish Music Choir.
The plans for the restoration come as a wider project begins this year to pedestrianize Taksim Square, a project that will necessitate the closing of the square to traffic and the construction of underground roads for traffic and a series of bus stops.