Turkey opens New York Ottoman tower taller than UN building

Turkey opens Ottoman skyscraper in New York that towers over UN building
2 min read
21 September, 2021
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened The Turkevi, or Turkish House, which is a skyscraper rich in symbolism from the Ottoman Empire which was made to overshadow its neighbouring UN building in New York City.
The Turkveti was made to tower over the UN building [Getty]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan opened a skyscraper rich in symbolism from the Ottoman Empire in the US city of New York on Monday, overshadowing the United Nations headquarters across the street.

The Turkevi, or Turkish House, will serve as home to Turkey's permanent mission to the UN and its consulate general in New York, as well as to provide diplomatic housing.

It was constructed on the site of the previous, smaller building, bought from IBM in 1977.

The 171-metre tall building, which cost around $300 million, was designed by Turkish planners who made sure that it would exceed the height of the neighbouring United Nations Plaza, which houses the US permanent mission to the UN.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the 36-storey tower, Erdogan said the Turkevi is symbolic of Turkey's "increasing power".

"We have reunited with the Turkish House, which contains motifs inspired by the Seljuk era and the tulip, which has an exceptional place in our culture," said Erdogan, who was in New York for the UN General Assembly.

"God willing, the building will serve for a long time as a symbol of Turkey's success stories," he said.

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Erdogan has already scheduled meetings with counterparts from the UK, Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia, and Finland to be held at The Turkevi.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at the ceremony that it is essential Turkey "blends our power in the field with the power we have at the table".

The Turkevi was designed by local architecture firm Perkins Eastman, with input from Turkey's Dizayn Group. It features a top shaped like a tulip, a flower that represented power and wealth in the Ottoman Empire.

The building is curved at the edges to represent the crescent in the Turkish flag. The entrance area's design is inspired by the old Silk Road's caravansaries, or roadside inns, which were used by travellers to rest during the Ottoman times.

Caravansaries were popular in the Seljuk era, a Turkic dynasty that preceded the Ottoman Empire.