photo by Jacek Poremba
Stefan Kuryłowicz was one of the most prominent and influential creators in the history of the Polish architecture and the author or co-author of various prestigious facilities, winning awards in numerous competitions in Poland and abroad. The ideas of Kuryłowicz had a tremendous impact on the image of the post-communist Warsaw. A lot of well-known and admired buildings situated in the capital city of Poland were constructed according to his design. Kuryłowicz & Associates studio, established by Stefan Kuryłowicz, is a model example of how liberated architectural ideas can match business and market requirements.
When it comes to Kuryłowicz’s didactic and design work, he believed that it is essential to combine theory and practical experience and that it is an architect’s duty to bring their work under the judgement of the public opinion, given the fact, that the occupation of an architect is a profession of public trust. His heritage includes not only buildings and entire city areas, constructed according to his design, but also a great influence that he had on many generation of architects he had trained. His heritage lives through his works, but also ideas and values that are still adopted and will be adopted by next generations.
StefanKuryłowicz was born on 26 March 1949 in Warsaw, when both of his parents were still students at the Faculty of Architecture of the Warsaw University of Technology. Stefan himself graduated in Architecture and started to work as an assistant professor at the same faculty in 1972. From 1977 to 1999, he was a member of the Section of Industrial and Large-Scale Architecture and in 1999 he became the head of the section. The profile of the section was developed by its creator, Prof. Jerzy Hryniewiecki, and elaborated by Prof. Maciej Gintowt, PhD., two excellent teachers, outstanding artists and designers of buildings, considered to be some of the greatest achievements of the Polish architecture of the twentieth century. As a teacher and as an architect, Stefan Kuryłowicz believed that it is essential to combine theory and practical experience and that it is an architect’s duty to bring their work under the judgement of the public opinion, given the fact, that the occupation of an architect is a profession of public trust. He was the promoter of over 100 diplomas, many of which won national and international competitions. In 2009, he had the honour to have his name entered into the Golden Book of Graduates of the Warsaw University of Technology.
In the years 1983-1990, he was the head of the self-established Author’s Architecture Studio, operating within the frames of Autorskie Pracownie Architektury Przedsiębiorstwo Państwowe. In 1990, Kuryłowicz transformed the Studio into Kuryłowicz & Associates Architecture Studio, which he managed until his death. Kuryłowicz & Associated Architecture Studio, together with its branch in Wrocław and K&A Engineering consulting office provide a model example proving that it is possible to combine free spirit of architecture creation with business and market requirements.
As the General Designer and the President of the studio, he contributed to the creation of a number of renowned facilities that won awards in numerous national and international competitions. The most important of them are, among others: VitkAc shopping centre in Warsaw, office buildings in Warsaw: Prosta Tower, Focus Filtrowa, Wolf Nullo, Królewska; the headquarters of PLL LOT, Fuji Film Poland, Emi Pomaton, Avon and Reprograf; industrial buildings: Avon Cosmetics in Garwolin, Arcon ISC in Warsaw, Ostervijg in Nieporęt. He also designed residential buildings and housing estates, the most renowned and the best known of which are: Eko Park and Marina Mokotów estates in Warsaw, hotel facilities: Hilton in Gdańsk, Hilton Doubletree in Łódź, Mariott Courtyard by the Chopin Airport in Warsaw, as well as churches in Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki, Widzew housing area in Grodzisk Mazowiecki and in Warsaw’s Wierzbno housing area. After 6 June 2011 Kuryłowicz & Associates Architecture Studio carries out projects elaborated with his participation: National Forum of Music in Wrocław, Modlin airport, Plac Unii Lubelskiej office and trade complex in Warsaw, Univeristy of Warsaw facilities, Ochota Campus and many more. Out of the listed facilities, office buildings alone received 9 awards and special mentions, and the A-4 complex belonging to the Eko Park estate, being the only Polish project presented at the European Parliament in Brussels in 2010, received an award during the Jubilee Exhibition of the Architects’ Council of Europe.
Articles on his buildings and the projects implemented under his directorship, were published in national and international reviews, such as “The Phaidon Atlas of the Contemporary World Architecture – the Most Outstanding Works of Architecture from All Over the World Build Since 1998” (Phaidon, 2003), “Materials for Architectural Design” (Laurence King Publishing, 2006), as well as in magazines: “Architectural Review”, “World Architecture”, “Architektura-murator”, “Architektura & Business” and many more. A lot of projects elaborated by different teams of the studio were implemented in consequence of winning contests (e.g. National Forum of Music in Wrocław in 2005, the building for the linguistic faculties of the University of Warsaw, Ochota campus for the University of Warsaw in 2007, Warsaw Supersam office and trade complex in 2007); some of the projects resulted from long-term cooperation with private investors (Wolf Immobilien Polen, Echo Investment, GTC, Qualia Investments, Eko Park and others).
Stefan Kuryłowicz was an active member of the Association of Polish Architects (SARP). For a number of years he was also its vice-president and competition judge. He was also involved in the works of the National Chamber of Polish Architects, in which, in the years 2002-2006, he acted as the Screener for Professional Liability. On behalf of SARP, he co-operated with the International Union of Architects UIA. In 2010, Kuryłowicz was invited to become a member of a 5-person Advisory Committee to the UN Secretary General on the Reconstruction of the United Nations Headquarters in New York city, in the works of which he participated until June 2011. In 2009 he received the Award of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage.
Stefan Kuryłowicz loved sport, participated in marathons, sailed, skied and had a pilot’s license – he was also a member of the Warsaw Aeroclub. This passion, which helped him to conquer and explore space, unfortunately led to his premature death. Stefan Kuryłowicz died in a plane crash on 6 June 2011 in Asturias, Spain. He was buried at the Warsaw Powązki Cemetery in the Avenue of Notables (the so-called Professor Avenue).
The heritage of Stefan Kuryłowicz includes not only buildings and city fragments constructed according to his projects, but also the influence he had, as a teacher, on a number of generations of architects. His heritage lives in the texts he wrote, in numerous ideas and concepts that are and will be implemented. The architecture competitions that he won at the early stage of his career, as a young architecture graduate, together with teams composed of his friends, related to music ad theatre: Baltic Opera in Gdańsk, 1974, Philharmonic Hall in Wroclaw, 1975, Damascus Opera House, 1979 (2nd prize) and many others others. His doctoral dissertation of 1987 was also dedicated to these themes.
Stefan Kuryłowicz believed that each architectural task can be an act of creation, combining pragmatism, required by engineering and economic aspects, and beauty, brought to life by bold imagination supported by knowledge. That is why the awards bearing his name are handed out by the Foundation in two categories: for creative and innovative competition projects relating to the culture and for theoretical works on the relationship of architecture and culture. It is due to the fact that architecture, through which a man gains a new understanding of the world and finds delight in it, is certainly part of the culture.
By creating the Stefan Kuryłowicz Award, I would like to commemorate not only an outstanding architect, with whom I had the honour to share 35 years of life and work, but also a man that was full of passion, warmth and kindness that he shared with the people he worked with. I wish– just as Stefan wished – the profession of an architect was respected by the society. I hope that the Award, to some extent, will contribute to this mission.
Architekt Ewa Kuryłowicz, 26th March 2012