National eliminations for the Mies van der Rohe Award 2017

A few days ago Association of Polish Architects (SARP)  has published the results of the national eliminations for the Mies van der Rohe Award (1). As usual, the Association’s choice has raised emotions. We can discuss which has a better chance in such a prestigious contest, “projekt obszaru ‘A’ – Plaża Miejska” (Design of the ‘A’ area – City Beach) designed by Dżus GK Architekci or for example National Museum Dialogu Centre “Przełomy” in Szczecin designed by KWK Promes Robert Konieczny (this project has not been nominated by the Association).

However, this post would not exist (because common knowledge that the selection of the lucky seven is a matter of taste with which one may agree or rather disagree with) if not for the outrageous fact that this year the jury nominated a building…by one of the jurors.

Supposedly, architecture is a profession of public trust, meaning that we believe that morals of an architect are one of the most important qualities in his profession. But obviously the temptation is sometimes too strong, not only for architects. But isn’t that why SARP has been created, to support architects (on various levels), consociate them in an association, care for the high ethic standards, and sometimes simply meet and exchange experiences?

On SARP’s website, on the history page, we can read that the association has been created to support architects, represent them on an international arena through organizing, for example, exhibitions, while ”One of the most important achievements of the environment, before gaining independence, has been developing the terms of rules for architectural contests (1911).” So how is it really with those contests?

This year, the following people have been selected for the jury of the SARP national eliminations for the Mies van der Rohe Award: arch. Ewa Kuryłowicz – Chairwoman of ZKSK SARP, arch. Grzegorz Stiasny – Vice-president of SARP for creativity, member of KSK Warsaw Department, arch. Magdalena Kozień-Woźniak – SARP Juror, member of KSK Kraków Department, so every member of the jury is also a member of the SARP Kolegium Sędziów Konkursowych (College of the Competition Judges). It is inter alia them, who decide which projects win contest in Polish cities (providing that the contest is co-organized by SARP, which is about 70% of all contests in Poland). In other words, they play an important role in Polish architecture.

Is it moral for the chairwoman of the Zespół Koordynacyjny Sędziów Konkursowych (Coordination Team of Competition Judges) to nominate her own building in a prestigious, international competition – the National Forum of Music with the underground car park (designed by Kuryłowicz&Associates)? Or perhaps the jury has not read all of the rules of the competition, because it is clearly stated that the jury should not nominate own projects (5.3 The nominators may not propose their own works or works by the Jury). Because I do not want to believe that the jury has read the rules and bluffly ignored what is stated there.

Could Mrs. Kuryłowicz not resign from the jury knowing that the National Forum of Music is one of the most important buildings constructed in Poland in the last two years and that it will take part in the competition?

So how did the jury deliberations go? Did Mrs. Kuryłowicz walk out the door while her friends proposed her building, or did she cover her ears? As one of the independent experts of the Mies van der Rohe Award, I can not understand this situation, I do not agree with it, and I am ashamed for my older colleagues!

So once again I turn to the SARP’s website hoping that it will help me to understand the philosophy behind SARP’s actions. I enter, click on CELE DZIAŁANIA (GOALS) … “no information’ pops out.

Each year I promise myself that I have to take it easy in criticizing SARP. No way!