July 5, 2005
Notes from Robert Ivy, FAIA, Editor-in-Chief
The UIA, an international organization
of architects, has wobbled from famine to feast. While formerly
troubled economically, the past seems far behind today, if
the lively turnout in Istanbul for the organization's XXII
World Congress of Architecture is any indication. Thousands
of architects from around the world (10,000 were anticipated)
are gathered on the banks of the Bosphorus to talk, share
ideas and concerns, meet colleagues, and build upon the already-burgeoning
international architectural culture. The occasion is gaining
Suha Özkan, the 2005 President
of the International Union of Architects
Perhaps drawn by Istanbul and her incomparable
riches, perhaps by the multitudinous friendships of this year's
UIA president, Suha Özkan, by the theme, "The Grand
Bazaar of Architecture," or by the moment, they have
come-a polyglot stew of people, ranging from students to superstars.
After an opening celebration within the ancient walls of the
city, the crowds mill and gabble, then pour into the darkened
halls, rapt in the discussions and presentations occurring
at numerous locations simultaneously. It's less about the
substantive content, although Joseph Rykwert brings a bracing
discussion on the differences between theory and criticism,
than about the bazaar.
Odile Decq, a keynote speaker
with a large fan base
The first encounter with such largesse
can be daunting. After threading through the choices (shall
I attend a keynote speech by Odile Decq from France? Or one
of 10 other presentations or seminars, count them, featuring
topics as diverse as urbanism in Dubai or "Removing Unfreedoms").
Dear me. Which way to turn and not miss the main show? Temporary
paranoia subsides as the comforting lectures begin, only slightly
askew when gaggles of students rush the keynoter at her conclusion.
"Odile, Odile!" They all want autographs.
The day is drippy: for Istanbul in July,
unheard of. Yet events proceed throughout the day, drawing
participants up the hill to the school of architecture to
grab a bite of lunch, down a corridor to an exhibition, up
to a national cocktail party-and look, there's Sara Topelson,
and over there, my old friend Francois. And on and on. Rumors
fly; someone swore that the Hagia Sofia had been converted
for the evening into a private party where her highness Zaha
was interviewed by CNN, whose logo embellished the holy shrine
of architecture. Mon Dieu!
Hagia Sofia, the new party
place for Zaha and friends?
Outside and all around lays Istanbul,
groaning under the residual weight of Emperors, kings, pashas,
and Sultans. Repository of the artifacts of the world's greatest
architects, including the sublime Hagia Sofia, or the architect,
Sinan, mosques, hammams, colored tiles, volumetric recesses,
urban bustle, the odor of spice and waste, freshets of air
and water in coursing down the straights. Day 2, Istanbul,
and the Congress await.