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Merkez Han

Merkez Han, the current location of the ANAMED. It was the first building bought by Vehbi Koç when it was decided to move the headquarters of Koç Ticaret AŞ to Istanbul. Built in the early nineteenth century, the building is located on the street, İstiklal Caddesi. Merkez Han is the oldest surviving building from before the Great Fire of 1831 in Pera, and is thought to have been the mansion of the Armenian Catholic Düzoğlu or Düzyan family. Today the building is partly used as ANAMED’s cafeteria. In 1819, the building was seized from the family on the charge that it was a secret chapel, only to be returned in 1830. All that remains of the “secret” chapel is the carved stone “Lamb of God” panel on the building’s third floor. From 1881 onwards, the building housed the Club de Sport Oriental (which later became the Cercle d’Orient), a club for diplomats and high-ranking Ottoman officials. From 1883 to 1890, it was used as the Greek Consulate. Between 1898 and 1902, the Düzoğlu Mansion was renovated like other buildings on Cadde-i Kebir (now İstiklal Caddesi) as the street was widened. Due to this, turning the mansion into a five-story building subsequently needed structural reinforcement. Following these large-scale architectural changes, the Düzoğlu Mansion, still owned by the family, gained a function more in keeping with the socio-cultural developments of the late Ottoman Empire. This multi-story, modern mansion then became a working building (han) in Beyoğlu, which was occupied by the US sewing machine manufacturer, Singer. It became known as Singer Han and the company continued to operate in the building after the foundation of the Turkish Republic. When the building was bought by Vehbi Koç in 1960, it became known as “Merkez Han”, and the following year it was occupied by one of the first Koç Group companies, Gazsan Likid Gaz Ticaret ve Sanayi AŞ (Gazsan Liquid Gas Trade and Industry Inc.). Vehbi Koç’s will stated that the building “will never be sold”, and after housing various companies, in 2005, the building was transformed into a research center for Koç University. Academic activities began in the same year while Merkez Han underwent structural reinforcement and renovations. In 2008, these renovations and restorations, designed by the architect Fahrettin Ayanlar, were awarded with the Chamber of Architects 11th National Building Achievement Award. Renovations and structural reinforcements continued until the building's official opening in 2012.

On October 1, 1960, I started work at the Istanbul branch of Koç Ticaret Anonim Şirketi, working alongside my father until his death on February 25, 1996. I spent some interesting years at my workplace, which was in Merkez Han, a dilapidated building in the Beyoğlu district. This was a typical scene:

My father alone in one room; the meeting table was in his room. The late Hulki Alisbah in the room looking out onto the street. İsak de Eskinazis, who has also sadly passed away, sitting in the back room. My father’s secretary, Zehra Tekbaş, typing with one finger as she sat in a windowless space that was more of a recess than a room. Haşim İşcan was in another room, while I sat in a recess opposite Zehra. There was a toilet as well. We constituted the entire cadre and the entire occupants of the floor. While we considered our premises to be perfectly clean and respectable, my mother, on one of her rare visits, pronounced it to be a dump, prompting the repair of the cracked marble stairs and toilet and the installation of a lift. Bless my late mother for showing her true self and meticulous attention to detail
Suna Kıraç, Ömrümden Uzun İdeallerim Var (My Ideals, Longer than My Lifetime), Suna ve İnan Kıraç Vakfı Yayınları, Istanbul, 2006, p. 89
Abadan Unat, Nermin

Political scientist who received the Vehbi Koç Award for education in 2012.