1999 Travel Grant for a Return to Poland

I am very happy to announce that I have been awarded a 1999 Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant from the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter. It has been a fantastic chance to follow-up on many of the on-going projects seen during my first visit to Poland in December 1997 and travel to other areas of the country. Many thanks to the AIANY, the grant selection committee, those who wrote recommendations (Mr. Jan Hird Pokorny, Mr. Marek Baranski and Mr. Ken Follett) and any others who cheered my efforts and travel desires.

The following is the grant proposal I submitted which outlines my travel intent. The photographs and text from my travel have been posted and are available for review on-line. I am continually adding information; please check back from time to time.

Application for the AIANY 1999 Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant

13 February 1999

For travel under this grant application, I propose to visit recent and on-going architecture and preservation projects in Poland. I had the opportunity to travel through Poland in 1997 as part of a delegation representing the Association for Preservation Technology. The group took part in a restoration trade show and conference in Szczecin and toured projects in Pomerania, Krakow and Warsaw. The sites visited were of a scale and breadth of culture and history unique from projects found in the United States. A return to Poland offers the opportunity to observe and document these projects and those yet unseen in greater depth and detail.

One of the most impressive projects was the Podzamcze site in Szczecin, a city on the northwest coast of Poland. Destroyed by bombings during World War II, the medieval heart of the city is being rebuilt in a large construction effort encompassing over 10 city blocks. Each of the remaining building foundations is uncovered, documented, stabilized and built upon again. Each building is developed by individual owners and approved by an overseeing co-operative board. When last seen in 1997, masonry walls and roof framing had been completed in the first blocks of the reconstruction. These areas should be at or near completion when travel is undertaken with construction in additional areas underway.

The Podzamzce project in Szczecin is similar to earlier reconstructions in Warsaw and other Polish cities. Though several articles and presentations have been produced on these reconstructions, most concentrate on work in the decade immediately following World War II. Architectural preservation and reconstruction work continues today but under a very different professional, governing and economic structure than in decades past. The break of the 10,000 member state sponsored restoration organization, PKZ, has created many small offices and trade workshops. Private owners also face new roles and responsibilities in managing and maintaining cultural properties. These new relationships should be observed and documented.

Other projects seen in Pomerania included a large 18th century family estate recently passed into private ownership and a medieval cathedral affected by adjacent housing construction. In Warsaw, Citibank has reconstructed the shell of the town hall to serve as its national corporate headquarters. The projects seen and working methods gleaned from discussions with practitioners met through the conference and our Polish contacts only touched upon the knowledge and examples Poland can offer. Revisiting projects, viewing additional sites and following the many invitations received from architects, preservationists, craftsmen and contractors would be an outstanding opportunity.

While in Poland, I would document projects primarily through photography using still and Quick Time VR panoramic images. These would be supplemented by written observations and oral interviews. The information collected would be posted on my own internet site, http://www.demel.net, which has received over 6,000 hits in the past 18 months. I also hope to have an article on Poland's architecture and preservation printed in one of the APT publications and possibly present at a future APT conference. Finally, I would welcome an opportunity to make a presentation on the journey to the AIA New York Chapter.



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