Looking at a modern building in Warsaw and thinking, “that’s pretty good actually,”? You’re probably looking at the work of Stefan Kuryłowicz…
A 1972 graduate from Warsaw University of Technology, Kuryłowicz opened an architectural studio in 1983. Although commie bureaucracy rarely mixed well with creativity, Kuryłowicz and his associates were soon winning awards, designing everything from churches (his 1984 effort in Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki is an excellent modern Polish church), to office blocks to houses.
The 1990s saw Kuryłowicz become the choice for anybody looking for architecture out of the ordinary. His work includes Centrum Królewska (which replaced a hideous two-storey shack run by Orbis), Prosta tower, the LOT headquarters, Dworzec Gdański metro station.
His unique style often initially caused controversy. But as Zbigniew Reszka, another leading Polish architect said, “after a while – after a year or two – it turned out that they fit wonderfully with their surroundings.”
Kuryłowicz died in a plane crash on 6 June 2011 but his work and his impact on Polish architecture live on, with his firm continuing to add to Warsaw’s skyline with such landmark projects as the mixed use Plac Unii. After his death, PAP described him as both “the creator of outstanding projects which changed Polish architecture starting in the 1990s, (and) a master capable of transmitting his knowledge to others.” Three years on, it’s a description that remains true – and will for some time.