The following text is a press release written for APTI by Kent Diebolt.

 

On December 1st, 1997, a delegation of five APTI members left New York for the Antikon '97 Conference and Trade show, held in Szczecin, Poland. The APTI delegation included (L to R): James Van Westering, (Van Westering Associates); Kent Diebolt (Vertical Access); Ken Follett (Apple Restoration and Waterproofing); Witold Karwowski (Arteco Construction); and Scott Demel (Jan Hird Pokorny Associates). The outreach project was the brainchild of the Polish - trained architect, Witold Karwowski, with the help and encouragement of Ken Follett and Lonnie Hovey, of the APTI Board of Directors.

In an effort to develop APTI's outreach program, the group manned a booth for APTI at the trade show. Lonnie Hovey, Chairman of the APTI Partnerships Committee produced a set of slides that were used in the conference presentation on the mission and function of APTI. Other presentations were given, highlighting the preservation expertise of the American participants and Ken Follett moved the crowd to tears with a poem he wrote about reflections on Polish and American preservation philosophies.

Many professional contacts were made with other historic preservation practitioners, including building conservators, contractors, landscape preservationists, and the 2 year-old Society for the Preservation of Historic Lighthouses. While in Szczecin, the group toured a faithful restoration of the "Old Town", toured an architectural objects conservation studio, and met with various local and regional preservation officials. Delegates Demel and Diebolt toured the historic town of Trzebiatow, with it's recently restored town hall and medieval graffito of an elephant that had passed through the town at that time.

The Antikon conference ended on Friday, December 5th and that morning, Ken was taken to the Szczecin hospital with an episode of tachycardia. With Ken's heart condition stabilized, and assured that he was in good hands, the rest of the group left for the medieval city of Cracow at the end of the day via an overnight train. They were joined in their travels by Marek Baranski, Head of the Bureau of Landmark Conservation with the State Service of Landmark Conservation, in Warsaw. Marek is an active member of the Polish ICOMOS committee and a passionate proponent of historic preservation within the Ministry of Culture.

Upon the group's arrival in Cracow, they were joined by another Polish ICOMOS member, Piotr Stepien, the architect supervising the restoration of the Wawel Royal Castle. Like Marek Baranski, Piotr's English was excellent, and he gave the group a personalized tour of the Wawel Castle, from his perspective, delving into technical issues of stone conservation, decisions made regarding different periods of interpretation, and the history of the castle. Bidding farewell to Piotr during the early afternoon left the group with enough daylight to visit a number of architecturally splendid churches, including St Mary's Church. To this day, a bugle call is sounded every hour from a tower of this church, to commemorate the heroism of the bugler killed alerting the city of the impending attack of the Tartars in the mid-1200's.

The group split up the following day, and the different parties attended high mass at the Wawel Cathedral, took photographs, visited the Jewish quarter and temple, and enjoyed a day of brilliant blue skies and clear, cold air. By early afternoon they were on a train to their last destination, Warsaw.

On Monday morning, the group met with architects of PKZ "Zamek", the Warsaw-based restoration company descended from the large, formerly State-run company. Today, PKZ provides a full range of historic preservation services, including archeological research, documentation of existing conditions, architectural design services, engineering, project management and a full-service construction division. The group toured several PKZ projects, including the nearly-completed old Warsaw City Hall reconstruction, developed by Citibank.

Tomasz Buzniak, the Deputy Castle Conservator led the group on a whirlwind tour of the Warsaw Royal Castle, which, along with most of Warsaw had been completely leveled during World War II. Words cannot describe the care and devotion that has gone into this reconstruction project since the early 1970's. Bits of the original building fabric are interwoven with the reconstructed fabric throughout the entire castle. These artifacts, viewed in-situ, serve as a powerful reminder of the extent of the damage that the Polish people have endured.

The afternoon was spent at the offices of the Industrial Chemistry Research Institute, another privatized company that produces a number of stone restoration products.

A recovered but utterly bored Ken Follet rejoined rejoined the group early Tuesday morning, and the entire reunited delegation spent a leisurely Tuesday morning touring the completely reconstructed Old City. Again, it is difficult to communicate the amount of work that has gone into rebuilding this oldest part of a city that was literally leveled during the War. The group flew out of Warsaw early in the afternoon, warmed by the hospitality of their Polish hosts, all agreeing that this would likely be the first of many trips to Poland.

 

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