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Swiss architect dropped by Warsaw's Museum of Modern Art

Site of museum to be temporary McDonald’s

The city of Warsaw has ditched the architect of the planned Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, claiming the practice could not fulfil the contract. The city cancelled its contract with Christian Kerez, the Swiss architect who won an international architecture competition in 2007 to design the building, last month.

Jacek Wojciechowicz, the deputy mayor of Warsaw, said that Kerez failed to “transform his concept into a realistic building design”. The 25m-high building was too tall to meet safety requirements, and Kerez’s proposal didn’t incorporate a planned underground system. The final straw, says Wojciechowicz, was a letter sent by Kerez to the city hall on 25 April in which he threatened to break the contract if the city did not increase his fee.

Kerez denies the politician’s allegations. “For almost two years, I tried to make proposals on how to solve some of the problems, but in the end it’s also up to the city to take responsibility. I have never had disagreements like this before.” Other difficulties, such as a long-running dispute over the ownership of the land, are not an architect’s responsibility, he says.

Warsaw city hall filed a claim against Kerez for failing to fulfil his contract, demanding Z5.4m ($1.6m). Kerez says that he hopes the situation can be resolved before it goes to court. Wojciechowicz has announced plans for another architecture competition.

The Museum of Modern Art, which was established in 2008, will move into the Emilia Pavilion near the city centre in the summer.

Meanwhile, construction of a temporary McDonald’s has begun on the site of the future museum. Its opening will coincide with the Euro 2012 football tournament, partly hosted in Poland this summer. Kerez says: “The McDonald’s has become a symbol of the tragic ending of any hope for progress for Warsaw’s centre. I hope I won’t have to pay penalties for that too.”

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Swiss architect dropped by Warsaw'

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 236 June 2012