An interview with Nick Birchall and Steve Brown, Principal Architects, Swanke Hayden Connell

Swanke Hayden Connell Architects was founded in New York City in 1906. SHCA is rapidly raising its profile in Europe, where they have over 40 staff in their offices in Istanbul, Paris and Moscow, each with a strong portfolio of local projects. The office in Istanbul, established over 20 years ago, has completed many signature developments and interior designs for local and international groups in the fast-developing Turkish property market.

By Bernd Struben, Senior Editor, REP


Nick Birchall

Nick Birchall studied at Cambridge University and joined SHCA in 1998. He is Principal in charge of architectural projects and responsible for SHCA's office in Istanbul, which has designed major developments within Istanbul including the Is Bank Towers and Tekfen Tower projects.


Steve Brown

Steve Brown studied at Leeds University and has over 20 years experience. He joined SHCA in 2003 and was made Principal in 2007. His recent projects at SHCA include two apartment buildings in the regenerated area of Bomonti in Istanbul. He is a strong advocate for socially and environmentally responsible design.

Q: When did Swanke Hayden Connell enter the Turkish market, and what drew you there?
Nick Birchall: We started in Turkey in 1996. One of our partners in our New York office, Altan Gursel, is Turkish. It was really through his home connections that we established a relationship with a number of clients, particularly the Sabanci family and through that to Is Bank. The Is Bank Towers development was the first major new development we designed for the city. It's still regarded as one of the leading grade-A international office developments today. We now have a very strong relationship between the London office and Istanbul in terms of business development and working collaboratively on projects.

Q: What special considerations are there for international architectural firms operating in Turkey?
Nick Birchall: We find it very important to have an office that's staffed locally with high quality Turkish architects. It sounds obvious but it's something that doesn't always happen. These individuals understand the process and also, importantly, the cultural issues. For instance when we're doing residential development, they have a different view of planning a residential unit than a North European view. The second consideration is und

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