Robert College) in Istanbul in 1965 and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees as a civil engineer-architect from Istanbul Technical University’s (ITU) Faculty of Architecture in 1970. In 1971, she became an academic assistant in the same faculty’s Department of Architectural History and Restoration. She received a PhD in 1975 with her work on the Sultanahmet Complex. She completed specialist training on conservation at York University in England in the academic year 1977-78 with her work on the archaeology and conservation of the ancient city of Side. She became associate professor in 1980, and professor in December 1988 with her work on “The Educational Buildings of the architect, Sinan”. She retired from ITU Faculty of Architecture, Department of Restoration in 2013.
Prof. Ahunbay has directed conservation and restoration projects in numerous places, from Istanbul to Edirne, Bursa, Gaziantep, Safranbolu, Tarsus, Samsat and Hasankeyf. These included the Temple of Apollo in Side, the Marmara University Rectorate Building, Istanbul land walls between T1 and T5, Zeyrek Mosque, Bursa Green Tomb and the Uzunkemer restoration projects. Her restoration work on the southwest corner of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, which she carried out with her husband, Prof. Metin Ahunbay, was given the Restoration Merit Award in the 8th National Architectural Awards program of the Chamber of Architects of Turkey.
The selection committee of the Vehbi Koç Award, which she received in 2017 for her work on the conservation and restoration of cultural assets, said: “Professor Ahunbay is a scholar who has developed a unique approach to protect a vast range of cultural heritage from archaeological sites to Ottoman buildings, and exemplified it in the restoration projects she has undertaken. She is one of the top experts in conservation in the world. A vanguard of architectural heritage conservation in Turkey, Ahunbay has trained numerous students and thereby contributed to the development of this field as a solid discipline.”
Prof. Ahunbay served two terms as chairperson of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) Turkey National Committee from 1999 to 2005. She is also a member of the Chamber of Architects of Turkey and Europa Nostra-Turkey. She currently plays an active role on the advisory boards for monuments such as Hagia Sophia and the Great Mosque of Diyarbakır.
In addition to many articles, Prof. Ahunbay has also published several books. These include Tarihi Çevre Koruma ve Restorasyon (1966; Conservation and Restoration of the Historical Environment), the section on Istanbul in Dünya Mirasında Türkiye (2006; Turkey in the World Heritage), and Cultural Heritage of Turkey (2009).