Panel I

Turkey and Syria after the Earthquakes
Panel 1: Emergency Responses

July 22, 2023 — New York & Istanbul
10:00 AM EST | 17:00 GMT+3

The 7.8- and 7.5-magnitude earthquakes that hit southeastern Turkey and Syria on February 6, 2023 officially took an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 lives. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed in cities such as Kahramanmaraş, Adıyaman, and Hatay, with more than 160,000 collapsed or severely damaged buildings. The region is facing a humanitarian crisis that presents immediate aid and disaster-relief challenges as well as concerns for long-term, safe, sustainable, and resilient rebuilding efforts.

“Turkey and Syria After the Earthquakes” is a series of four panel discussions curated by Collective Action for Readiness, Recovery, and Resilience (CARRRE), a collective of US-based Turkish-American architects and academics. CARRRE aims to amplify awareness among a global audience regarding the catastrophic repercussions of these earthquakes, and to provide agency to architects, planners, engineers, municipalities, and builders on the ground by assisting with local relief efforts, sharing professional expertise, and aiding in the development of long-term rebuilding strategies. These panels aim to provide an international platform for learning, debate, and actionable projects.

This first panel, Emergency Responses, will provide an overview of the affected regions, discuss ongoing response efforts, and explore avenues to pursue within the built environment to address urgent needs of impacted communities.

Key topics include:
• Emergency housing and temporary shelter
• Shelter sites and infrastructure restoration
• Unexpected challenges in relief efforts
• Enhancing preparedness for disaster relief (international examples)

Celal Abdi Güzer, PhD, Faculty Member, Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara

Illya Azaroff, FAIA, Associate Professor, New York City College of Technology, CUNY; Principal, +LAB architect; NYS Disaster Coordinator and 2021 President, AIA New York State
2. Esin Pektas, AIA, PE, RA, LEED AP BD+C, Major Capital Projects Program Director, Authority of New York and New Jersey
3. Ersin Gök, Founding Member, Yuva Project
4. Hitoshi Abe, Director, xLAB Research Center, UCLA; CEO, Atelier Hitoshi Abe
5. Tuba Şehitoğlu, Architect & Designer


View Bio
As Moderator
Celal Abdi Güzer
PhD, Faculty Member, Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara
View Bio
Illya Azaroff
FAIA, Associate Professor, New York City College of Technology, CUNY; Principal, +LAB architect; NYS Disaster Coordinator and 2021 President, AIA New York State
View Bio
Esin Pektaş
AIA, PE, RA, LEED AP BD+C, Major Capital Projects Program Director, Authority of New York and New Jersey
View Bio
Ersin Gök
Director of Photography
View Bio
Hitoshi Abe
Director, xLAB Research Center, UCLA; CEO, Atelier Hitoshi Abe
View Bio
Tuba Şehitoğlu
Architect & Designer

Prof. Dr. Celal Abdi Güzer

Celal Abdi Güzer graduated from the Department of Architecture at METU in 1982. He received British Council research grant and studied on ‘Architectural Criticism’ at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.  Güzer received his doctoral degree from METU where he is currently leading one of groups in the 4th year architectural design studio.

He acted as the vice chair of the Department of Architecture, director of the Program on Architectural Design, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at Middle East Technical University, and the Chairperson of Architects’ Association 1927. Güzer has been a jury member in several architectural competitions and received many awards and mentions in national and international competitions including three first prizes.

Güzer was the curator of the 2013 International Antalya Architecture Biennale organized by Chamber of Architects Antalya section. He is also the curator of some national and international architectural exhibitions including "Speaking with Lines - Architectural Sketches". He realizes most of his projects through Middle East Technical University and has several completed projects including Middle East Technical University MATPUM Research Center, which received YEM (The Building Information Center) Design Award in 2008. He is the designer and design consultant of many educational, cultural and housing projects. With his contribution to architectural medium a special award had been given to Güzer by the award program of Turkish Architects Association of Practicing Architects in 2019. Güzer’s publications and research topics include architectural criticism, culture, educational and cultural buildings, housing, urban design and sustainability.

Illya Azaroff

Mr. Azaroff, FAIA, is a renowned architect and leader in disaster mitigation, resilient planning, and regenerative design. He is currently involved in significant projects such as the New York State Climate Impact Assessment and the 2024 Hazard Mitigation Plan for NYC. His expertise extends globally, collaborating with organizations like ICC/ANRC and the US State Department to exchange resilience planning strategies. He leads a studio focusing on community resilience hubs in Hawaii, Dominica, and New York, as well as a program to enhance resilience in long-term care facilities in North Carolina. As a COP-27 Delegate for the AIA, he is actively involved in international climate conferences and will be leading the COP-28 delegation in Dubai in 2023. Mr. Azaroff has served in influential roles, including Technical Advisor to the ASPR in Washington, contributing to the National Disaster Recovery Framework. He is a tenured Professor at NYC College of Technology (CUNY), where he champions sustainability and resilience across the curriculum. Additionally, he has contributed to numerous publications and worked with esteemed organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities. Mr. Azaroff's passion for resilience extends beyond academia and practice, as he founded initiatives like the AIA Unified Task Force City and State, addressing the pandemic, and the NYS Regional Recovery Working Group, a coalition working with government authorities and agencies. Currently, he serves on the AIA National Board of Directors from 2023 to 2025.

Esin Pektaş

Esin Pektas, PE, RA is a dual licensed New York State Professional Engineer and Registered Architect with over 20 (twenty) years of experience in architecture, engineering, infrastructure, urban planning and construction administration. Pektas has been providing services in construction management, transportation infrastructure, architecture and structural engineering on projects in North America, Europe, and Asia. Esin's practice is focused on infrastructure, skyscrapers, new construction, building materials, facade engineering, and adaptive renovations specific to New York City's unique historical and environmental context.

As the Major Capital Projects Program Director at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Esin is working on the mega transportation and infrastructure projects of the region including the new Midtown Bus Terminal Replacement designed by Norman Foster and partners.

Ersin Gök

Ersin Gök is a Director of Photography based in Istanbul. He is a graduate of Dokuz Eylul University, where he studied photography. He pursued his studies in photography further and received his MA degree from Marmara University. As a co-founder of an independent initiative called Young Photography Initiative, he still continues taking photographs. 

He has been working on short films, feature films, documentaries, and commercials. His first feature film “Mustang” was nominated for the Academy Awards “OSCAR”  and consequently, he was acclaimed as a director of photography.

Ersin has been a great support and action-taker for the Yuva project in Istanbul, an initiative created and performed by numerous independent volunteers from the architecture and film industries in Turkiye project to build 100 tiny homes in response to the devastating Maras earthquakes. A group of about 250-300 volunteers gathered and built wooden and modular disaster homes to deliver a mid-term living environment for the victims of the earthquake.Professionals of the film industry used their rapid “set setup” and production skills to build 100 tiny homes at a fast pace and to crowdsource funding from local celebrities and the public. The volunteer group started the assembly process at Tuyap Fair and Congress Center in Istanbul, and sent the homes to the earthquake region, as completed, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior Disaster and Emergency Management Authority in Turkiye.

Ersin’s personal interests are natural farming, sustainable life, and ecological practices.

Hitoshi Abe

Since 1992, when Dr. Abe established Atelier Hitoshi Abe, he has maintained an active international design practice based in Sendai, Japan. As a successful designer and educator who continuously lectures and publishes throughout his career, Hitoshi Abe has earned a position among the leaders in the field of architecture and urban design for his ability to initiate productive interdisciplinary collaborations and establish professional partnerships with various constituencies. With growing geography in its portfolio, Atelier Hitoshi Abe opened its second office in Los Angeles in 2008. In 2011, together with a group of Japanese Architects, Hitoshi Abe initiated the Archi+Aid network – a voluntary network of architects established to help reconstruct the damaged community by the 2011 East Japan Great Earthquake and Tsunami. In 2017, he opened the xLAB at UCLA, which serves as an international think tank that examines architecture's elastic boundaries through interdisciplinary collaboration.

Tuba Şehitoğlu

Tuba Şehitoğlu is a Turkish architect and designer who currently serves as a guest lecturer in the Department of Interior Architecture and Environmental Design at Medipol University. She earned her bachelor's degree in Architecture from Istanbul Technical University (ITU) and her master's degree in Architectural Design from the same university. During her master's studies, she gained experience by working in various design offices and received several awards from Architectural and Urban Design Project Competitions. In 2016, Tuba Şehitoğlu co-founded the architectural and interior design firm "GIGOFİS" with Zeynep Akten. Through this firm, she has successfully executed design and implementation projects for diverse undertakings such as hotels, restaurants, residential complexes, and retail spaces, both domestically and internationally.

Furthermore, Şehitoğlu is a founding member of the "YUVA Project," which aims to create healthy, modular, and wooden semi-temporary structures for the protection of nature and humanity following earthquakes.

Moderator / Overview
Keynote Speaker
Illya Azaroff
Speaker 2
Speaker 3
Speaker 4
Hitoshi Abe
Moderated Discussion

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