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We made it!

THE TURKISH NATIONALITY ROOM HAS BEEN DEDICATED ON MARCH 4, 2012

Thanks to the dedication and hardwork of an army of volunteers and donors, our dream of 40 years has been realized in a moving ceremony held at the Commons Room of the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. His Excellency Namik Tan, the Ambassador to the US, was in attendance and delivered the keynote address. Longtime chair of the Turkish nationality room committee and architect of the room Ömer Akın, gave a brief description of the design of the room. Chair of the PTNR Inc., Malik Tunador presented the symbolic key of the room to the Provost of the University who in turn gave it to E. Maxine Bruhns, the Director and "guardian angel" of the Nationality Rooms. During one of the poignant moments of the ceremony, Şakir Oğuz passed the baton, literally and figuratively, to her grand daughter, who had to stand on her tippy toes to reach the micraphone. Community representative Varol Ablak summarized everyone's sentiments when he said: "it is a great day to be a Turk."

IMMANUEL KANT, THE FAMOUS GERMAN PHILOSOPHER ONCE WROTE: "WE APPREHEND AESTHETICS THROUGH OUR IMAGINATION."

LET US NOW IMAGINE A ROOM IN THE STEPPES OF CENTRAL ASIA THAT IS THE SAME AS ONE AT THE TOPKAPI PALACE.

EXCEPT FOR HOW THEY ARE BUILT, THESE ROOMS ARE THE SAME:

IMAGINE ENTERING THESE ROOMS AFTER YOU TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES JUST BEYOND THE SEKI-STEP

IMAGINE FEELING THE SOFT CARPETING UNDER YOUR FEET AND THE COOL BREZE ON YOUR BROW

IMAGINE SITTING … SHOULDER TO SHOULDER … FACE TO FACE … HUDDLED AROUND THE SINI FOR DINER OR YOUR ELDERS TO ENJOY A STORY

IMAGINE A CEILING MADE OF DELICATE CITAKARI AND EXHUBERANT KUNDEKARI PANELS

IMAGINE WALLS COVERED WITH CUPBOARDS AND WINDOWS OF CLEAR AS WELL AS LEADED GLASS – PAINTING THE AIR INTO MANY COLORS

AS THE SUN MOVES BEYOND THE HORIZON, IMAGINE PULLING THE BEDDING OUT OF THE CUPBOARDS AND SLEEPING ON THE SOFA WRAPPED AROUND THE SPACE LIKE THE WALLS THAT ENCLOSE IT.

IMAGINE ALL OF LIFE IN A ROOM WITH PERFECT PROPORTIONS, DETAIL, AND SPIRIT.

NOW, IMAGINE THAT ROOM ON THE THIRD FLOOR OF THE CATHEDRAL OF LEARNING.

AS THE ARCHITECT OF THE TURKISH NATIONALITY ROOM, IT WAS MY TASK TO RECREATE THAT ROOM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH.

A TASK MADE SO MUCH MORE DIFFICULT BY THE CHALLENGES OF TRANSPORTING AN AESTHETIC-IDEA ACCROSS TIME, PLACE, CRAFT, SENSIBILITY, CULTURE AND INSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS; AND A TASK MADE SO MUCH EASIER BECAUSE OF THE NATIONALITY ROOMS ORGANIZATION.

THIS ROOM UPSTAIRS IS MADE OF STEEL, GLASS, DRYWALL, WOOD, CERAMIC, SLATE, POLYMER, FASTENERS, GLUE, DUCT, VAV-BOX, LIGHT FIXTURE, CONDUIT, SHIMMYING, CAULKING, BLOOD, SWEAT, AND MONEY -- AND I MEAN LOTS OF IT.

WHEN YOU GO INTO THIS ROOM TODAY, YOU SEE ONLY CERAMIC, DRYWALL, GLASS, AND, OH YES, WOOD – LOTS OF WOOD.

YOU FIND YOURSELF SURROUNDED BY A SOFT, HONEY COLORED FLOOR, BELOW; AND A FESTIVE CEILING -- RECALLING ITS ANCESTORS IN SAFRANBOLU -- ABOVE.

YOU SEE THE LEAD-GLASS WINDOWS, THE KUNDEKARI CHALKBOARD, AND A MURAL OF ISTANBUL, IN FRONT, WHICH CRATES A VISION THAT TOYS WITH YOUR SENSE OF REALITY AND TICKLES YOUR IMAGINATION.

NOW, YOU ARE TRANSPORTED TO THE TOPKAPI PALACE, TO THE STEPPES OF CENTRAL ASIA, TO SAFRANBOLU, EVEN BEFORE YOU CAN SAY … "I IMAGINE."

Ömer Akın, March 4, 2012

CONSTRUCTION PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE TURKISH NATIONALITY ROOM

THE TURKISH NATIONALITY ROOM

BOARD AND MEMBERS OF THE PITTSBURGH NATIONALITY ROOM INCORPORATED

1. President: Malik Tudador, Retired Engineer
2. Vice-President: İzzet Bahar, PhD Student, University of Pittsburgh
3. Treasurer and Pittsburgh Turkish American Association (PTAA) Liaison: Şakir Oğuz
4. Secretary: Samar Sinharoy, Adjunct Professor, Robert Morris University
5. Member of the Board: Ali Ünal, Engineer, ALCOA
6. Member of the Board: Ferda Omurtag: Adjunct Professor, Robert Morris University
7. Member of the Board: Yıldırım Omurtag: Professor, Robert Morris University
8. Member of the Board: Ömer Akın, Professor, Carnegie Mellon University
9. Member of the Board: Barbara Tunador, Retired Teacher

TURKISH NATIONALITY ROOM COMMITTEE MEMBERS

1. Chairperson and Director of Architectural Design Sub-committee: Ömer Akın, Professor, Carnegie Mellon University
2. Director of Fundraising and Vice-Chair: Enigül Sönmez-Alpan [and Ali Özüer]
3. Treasurer and Pittsburgh Turkish American Association (PTAA) Liaison: Şakir Oğuz
4. Turkish American Student Association (TASA) Liaison at University of Pittsburgh: Ali Özüer
5. Secretary: Barbara Tunador
6. Newsletter and Foundations: Pınar İpek.
7. Fundraising liaison staff: Zuhal Ulusoy, Baris Demiral
8. Graphic Designers: Bilge Mutlu, Dilek Bulut

TURKISH NATIONALITY ROOM ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS

1. Turkish-American Association in the US: Ercüment Kılıç, President-elect, Assembly of Turkish American Associations, ATAA Dr. Ülkü Ulgur, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Assembly of Turkish American Associations, ATAA
2. Turkish Historians, Art Historians in the US and Turkey: Prof. Talat Halman, Director, Center for Turkish Literature, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey Dr. Esin Atıl, Expert on Islamic Art, Curator Emeritus, Smithsonian Institute
3. Turkish Businessmen in the US: Varol Ablak, CEO, Vocelli Pizza [Pizza Outlet], Pittsburgh
4. Turkish Government Officers: Süleyman Demirel, Former President, Republic of Turkey Dr. Faruk Loğoğlu, Ambassador to the USA, Embassy of the Republic of Turkey, Washington DC
5. Businessmen in Turkey: Nuri M Çolakoğlu, CEO, CNN-Turk
6. Turkish Universities: Prof. Gülsüm Sağlamer, President, İstanbul Technical University
7. Turkish-American Community in Pittsburgh: Dr. Thomas Detre, Senior Advisor, UPMC Health System, Pittsburgh Edward Friedman Attorney and CEO of Friedman and Friedman, Pittsburgh

TURKISH NATIONALITY ROOM TECHNICAL COMMITTEE MEMBERS
1. Prof. Dr. Nur Akın, Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University
2. Prof. Dr. Omer Akin, Professor, School of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University
3. Doc. Dr Gül Asatekin, Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Middle East Technical University
4. Dr. Deniz Esemenli, Curator Emeritus, Topkapi Palace, İstanbul
5. Dr. Sinan Genim, Faculty of Architecture, Mimar Sinan University
6. Dr. Süha Özkan, Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Middle East Technical University
7. Prof. Dr. Hasan Şener, Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University
8. Dr. Murat Tabanlıoğlu, Architect, Istanbul
9. Prof. Dr. Yıldırım Yavuz, Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Middle East Technical University