Dr. Zeynep Celik, a Turkish professor at NJIT’s Hillier College of Architecture and Design, has been nominated for the Tamayouz Women in Architecture and Construction Award. The award honors “women who have contributed to the fields of architecture and construction throughout the Near East and North Africa.” The award is comprised of two categories: “Rising Star” and Dr. Celik’s category of “Women of Outstanding Achievements.”
Celik noted that among the women on the list, she was the only scholar shortlisted for the award. When asked how she felt about this, Celik stated she was “very pleased architecture history is seen as an important aspect of architecture.” Additionally, she remarked how she was “very honored to be on the list with practicing woman architects from the Middle East.”
Celik was born and raised in Istanbul, later attending college at Istanbul Technical University where she studied architecture. Here she gained an appreciation for cultural understanding through architecture that would guide her academic and research career. After graduating, Celik studied architecture history at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation focused on the post-Tanzimat reform era, a period traditionally dismissed by scholars, and would be republished in 1986 as “The Remaking of Istanbul.”
Following the release of her initial book, Celik published more works centering around the Middle East. Their subject matter ultimately intersected with the Ottoman Empire and French colonization. Her most recent book, published in 2016, is a study on the Ottoman empire through archaeological research, titled “About Antiquities: Politics of Archaeology in the Ottoman Empire.”
Alongside her publications, Celik has curated several exhibits that have centered on her research with “Camera Ottomana” being her most recent exhibit. Held at the Koç University in Istanbul, this exhibit focused on how the Ottoman Empire embraced early photography between 1840 and the first World War. Her work has been covered by American newspapers such as The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, as well as the Turkish Hürriyet and Cumhuriyet.
Discussing NJIT, Celik explained how grateful she was for the academic freedom and support the university provides for her research. This liberty is demonstrated in how Celik educates her students. She encourages her students to make use of their critical thinking skills when addressing architecture history. Architecture history is “not so much about the facts,” Celik said, “but approaching the questions with a critical mind.”
Photo from design.njit.edu/faculty/celik