Maryland complex to leave a Turkish imprint on the US
by Hasan Ay
ISTANBULMar 16, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Hasan Ay
Mar 16, 2016 12:00 am
A complex consisting of a culture center, mosque and other facilities, which are expected to be opened in Maryland in the United States next month, will add new colors to the American cultural life, according to Hilmi Şenalp, its chief architect.
The complex constructed by Turkey will be opened at a ceremony between March 29 and April 2, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to attend the opening ceremony for what is branded as the "world's largest Islamic-Ottoman social complex" during his upcoming expected visit to the U.S., three years after he laid the foundation for the site.
Located in a quiet county in Maryland, some 10 miles from central Washington, D.C., the complex - formally called the "Diyanet Center of America" after Turkey's state-run Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) - is situated near neighborhoods with a predominantly Turkish and Muslim population. Spread across 60 acres, it contains "one of the largest Turkish mosques" built outside Turkey, according to officials. The complex was constructed with the support of Diyanet and nonprofit organizations.
Şenalp said the place was built to represent the "külliye" tradition, a complex of social and religious buildings that were common in Ottoman times. "Külliye was the basis for Muslim urban development as it combined structures for religious, social, economic and public health needs of the community with a mosque, madrasa [school], public kitchen, hospital, bathhouses and marketplace. So, we based our design of the site on this concept," he said. Şenalp added that the compound contained a mosque built in the fashion of classical Ottoman architecture, a culture center with traces of traditional Seljuk architecture, a museum, exhibition halls, a Turkish bath, a guest house, school and an art gallery. "The center is important for both better representation of the Turkish and Muslim community and for addressing the needs of the community here. It is a mixture of traditional Turkish architecture and American construction experience. It will enrich American history of culture and civilization," Şenalp said. The architect said they brought materials such as wood, china, marble and stones used in the decoration from Turkey, and Turkish artists and construction workers worked on the complex.