As the blaze grew police closed the road off to traffic. Television footage showed a nearby petrol station and other buildings also being evacuated.
İstanbul's Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu said an initial inspection suggested that it was caused by a technical problem with a section containing air conditioners.
State-run TRT television said the fire, fanned by winds, burned through the building's external wall insulation.
Numerous fire engines arrived on the scene and began trying to contain the blaze at around 11 a.m. About half an hour later the private Cihan news agency reported that the fire had been partially brought under control.
Şişli Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül told the press around noon that the fire in the 152-meter tall building had been fully brought under control. He added that if the Polat Tower Residence did not have internal fire-fighting facilities, the fire would have completely destroyed the building. Sarıgül added that he spoke over the phone with İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş and that he will meet with city officials to discuss what can be done to introduce more effective fire-prevention measures.