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Associate Professor Hakan Topal Merges Art, Science, and Architecture

Topal brought together  his diverse skill sets to design a family home in Turkey recently  featured in dwell magazine.

“Hakan Topal translated a few basics from his training—commit to choices, and don’t make too many—into a broad two-level residence in the countryside.”


Portrait of Hakan Topal

Building the Foundation

One might use the term Renaissance person to describe artist and educator Hakan Topal.

Following in his father’s footsteps, the Associate Professor of New Media and Graphic Design first pursued engineering, earning a BS at Middle East Technical University in his native Turkey.

While there, he worked as a researcher at their Audio-Visual Research and Production Center and earned an MS in Gender and Women’s Studies before moving to New York, where he pursued a PhD in Sociology from NYC’s New School for Social Research.

He spent twelve years collaborating with the international artists and researchers of the xurban_collective, which he co-founded in 2000. His collaborative and personal art practice received international recognition—he represented Turkey in the 49th Venice Biennial, participated in the 8th Istanbul Biennial, Greater New York at MoMA PS1, 9th Gwangju Biennial, and 8th Bucharest Biennial, presented his work in solo exhibitions, and received multiple international commissions.

Topal joined the Purchase faculty in fall 2013.

Sunny interior of a modern open concept kitchen

Architectural Intervention

In 2018, Topal returned to his engineering roots and merged the science with art—designing and building a family home in a village near Bodrum, Turkey, collaborating with his father, Cemal Topal. Sandima Modern, the name of the project, features a 3,000-square-foot modernist concrete house and cantilevered guest suite on the slopes of an olive grove. Over the years, many Purchase College faculty have visited him in this retreat.

Dwell magazine recently featured a photo essay and Q+A interview with Topal on the passion project years in the making.

Topal is the Doris and Carl Kempner Distinguished Professor, 2023-25, an award given to senior faculty members with national or international achievement, who hold distinction within a specific field, and who make a significant contribution to the college, especially those whose work shows connections with fields outside their specialty.

In 2024–2025, Topal assumes the role of Department Chair of Graphic Design.