Turkey will start to rebuild the iconic opera house anew as a cultural center in Istanbul's Taksim Square in February 2019, according to the culture and tourism minister.
"In February, we will lay the foundation of the building and start its [Atatürk Cultural Center] construction," Mehmet Nuri Ersoy told Anadolu Agency (AA). The minister added that the center is to be operational within two years.
The tender period will start this month after its content is announced on Nov. 9, Ersoy said. The tendering will finalize the same month, and the parties will sign the contract in December, the minister stated.
On Nov. 6, 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the new project for the Atatürk Cultural Center, known by its Turkish initials AKM, and said it would be a "symbolic" site of Istanbul. The renewed cultural center, which has served as an opera and theater hall on different occasions, will be open year round. Demolition of the building, the first phase of the project, began in February of this year and was completed in May.
The center will be a complex hosting an opera hall with a 2,500-person capacity, a conference hall with a 1,000-person capacity, a 285-seat movie theater, and a parking lot for 885 vehicles.
The AKM was first designed as a theater building by French architect Auguste Perret and built in 1946. The building suffered major damage in a fire in 1970, and it reopened in 1977. Turkey registered the center as an "urban protected area" in 1993, and in 1999 it was declared a protected cultural landmark.