Born in Turkey in 1908, Sedat Hakki Eldem studied in the West before he returned to Istanbul to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1932 he became an assistant professor at the Academy. In this capacity he acted as a major catalyst in the development of Turkish architecture.
In the early 1930s, Eldem rejected the Beaux-Arts tradition and gave his support to early functionalism. He developed a style partially based on the nationalistic atmosphere of the new post-war Turkish Republic. During the 1940s, Eldem shifted his focus to the vernacular architecture of the late Ottoman period in both his teaching and professional life.
Borrowing from the plans of old Turkish houses, Eldem designed a series of houses in Istanbul using modern materials and a functionalist geometry. After 1950 Eldem integrated a functionalist vocabulary with elements of a traditional Turkish vernacular, but structural expression remained a priority.
For Eldem, creation of a modern national style remained a supreme goal which led him to emphasize form rather than function in his design. He has always remained a sensitive designer of facades and details.
Since his retirement in 1978, Eldem has published materials on traditional Turkish domestic architecture.
Source: Adolf K Placzek. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects. Vol. 2. London: The Free Press, 1982. ISBN 0-02-925000-5. NA40.M25. p20-21. (http://architects.greatbuildings.com/Sedad_Eldem.html)
The Atatürk public library is situated on a sloping site with an excellent view of the Bosphorous. The facility consists of two sections: the main, hexagonal building with two upper public floors and a lower storage floor, and a four-story entrance, exhibition and administrative annex. The annex's upper two-story are for public use; the lower two are service areas. The top floor of the library and annex consists of the entrance hall, conference and exhibition areas and a large reading room; the level below is composed of the administrative and service areas, including catalogue and periodical units in addition to a large reading room with music and microfilm areas. The lowest level of the main building consists of an area of shelving space for 500,000 books.
The library is a compact building, whose design relies heavily on the use of 60° angles. Both the conference and exhibition areas, which flank the entrance hall, are flat-roofed hexagonal spaces: the main reading room comprises seven hexagonal units each surmounted by an hexahedral dome that is accented with skylights. The central dome is larger than the surrounding ones.
The site has been divided into two levels by a retaining wall. The main entrance is located on the top floor with access to it from the upper level. A central stairwell provides access to the two public floors. A separate stairwell in the entrance annex provides access to the two upper, public floors in addition to the two lower, service floors. Floor to ceiling windows have been used extensively in the public areas of the main building to take full advantage of the view. Two hexagonal exhaust towers flank the entrance annex