In May 2010, Namdi Alexander (BS Arch '11, M.Arch) arrived in Istanbul, Turkey with architecture professor Ozayr Saloojee and a handful of other students.
"It is difficult to succinctly summarize how eye-opening and influential this trip was," said Alexander, a nontraditional student who completed his liberal arts degree at Minneapolis Community and Technical College before entering the architecture program at the College of Design.
Before leaving on the May study abroad program, Alexander was curious about how an ancient city like Istanbul adapts itself to the modern world. What does it lose or gain by being straddled with so much history? He decided to develop an independent research project based around these questions.
"When we left for Istanbul I wasn't really sure what the final result of my research would look like," Alexander explained. "I imagined a standard research paper with a few supplementary photographs initially, but when we arrived and I began exploring and documenting the city it became clear this project needed to be much more than that. There were ephemeral and experiential qualities of this city that simply could not be captured in an academic paper."
The result of his research is Buying Istanbul, a 215-page photographic exploration of the city's architectural and cultural landscape accompanied by a narrative that is simultaneously personal memoir, history lesson, and speculative analysis. It took Alexander nearly a year to complete.
"[It is] the accomplishment I am most proud of from my undergraduate career. In the future I envision expanding this concept into a series of books exploring other great cities through a similar lens: Buying Athens, Buying Cairo, Buying Rome."
You can view Alexander's entire book online.
For more information about the Istanbul May term program, contact architecture professor Ozayr Saloojee.