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Piłsudskiego Square is a special place for Poles. It is strongly linked with the history of the country and Polish democracy. For the past three centuries, it has played the role of the central square of Warsaw. It has hosted commemorations of national holidays and military parades. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier miraculously survived the ravages of war, even when the Nazis blew up most of the neighboring buildings in 1944. Finally, in June 1979, Piłsudskiego Square was the site of the historic mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II—in an unusually important event for Poles that proved to be a breakthrough for the democratic opposition movement under communism.
The square is not fully developed in terms of architecture. A few years ago, Warsaw authorities decided to rebuild Saski Palace—which was destroyed during the war—in its form from the start of the 18th century. Also rebuilt will be neighboring Brühl Palace (erected in 1642) and a tenement house on Królewska Street (mid-19th century).
Last year, the city organized the first tender for the reconstruction of the western side of Piłsudskiego Square. But the tender attracted little interest among investors because the proposed scope of work proved too large and the investment was considered too risky.
Consequently, the tender was invalidated in June, and city authorities organized another tender with slightly different rules. The technical assumptions remained unchanged, while the formula and scope of the investment were changed. The new tender exclusively applies to the reconstruction of Saski Palace instead of the whole western side of the square. Another new thing is that the city will erect the prestigious building exclusively from its own funds. It has already set aside zl.150 million for this purpose. The tender is designed to select the best construction offer. The new tender formula has passed the test, because eight companies have expressed an interest in the project. “In mid-September, three of them, Budimex, Warbud and Mitex, were invited to submit bids,” said Mirosław Kochalski, director of the Public Procurement Department at City Hall, the organizer of the tender. “Eventually, they turned out to be the only suitors that submitted proper bids.”
Design and Build
Saski Palace will be developed on a design-and-build basis, which means interested construction companies must present an architectural design for the building. However, no revolution should be expected in this area. The city’s guidelines have not changed—the architectural form must refer to the prewar arrangement and traditional materials must be used during the construction process. The bids may only differ in specific solutions for the spatial arrangement of the interior. The purpose of the building will remain unchanged: office space for use by a prestigious institution. In all, on a lot of less than 7,000 square meters, a 16.5-meter-tall building will be erected, with three stories above ground of almost 20,000 sq m and 13,000 sq m underground, where a parking garage for more than 400 cars is planned. “The originally planned 2008 deadline for completing construction of Saski Palace is realistic,” Kochalski says. “The legal status of the area is clear, the funds have been secured and the bids from the companies invited to join the tender have been prepared professionally.”
Brühl Palace for a private investor
It may well happen that the development of the entire western side of Piłsudskiego Square will be completed after Saski Palace is ready. There are no legal claims with regard to the lots on which Brühl Palace and the historic apartment building on Królewska Street are located. City authorities say their development will take place along rules generally followed in the case of commercial investment projects. However, it is known that original assumptions will be maintained in this case as well. The Królewska Street building will be provided with a modern form—yet one that will correspond with the historic shape of Saski Palace. The edifice will be no taller than 19.5 meters; the aboveground stories will have an area of 13,000 sq m and the underground levels will exceed 5,000 sq m. Brühl Palace, on the other hand, must be provided with a facade referring to its historic shape. However, the investor will enjoy freedom in adapting the interiors to the needs of either office space or a hotel. The building will feature 19,000 sq m aboveground and 18,500 sq m underground and in the courtyard, where a parking lot is also planned.
2006-03-01, Biuro Promocji Miasta