The Palace Complex

The Palace Complex

A Stalinist Skyscraper, Capitalist Warsaw, and a City Transfixed
Michal Murawski
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 03/22/2019
Format: Hardback 115 illustrations and 2 maps, all b&w
ISBN: 978-0-253-03994-1
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The Palace of Culture and Science is a massive Stalinist skyscraper that was "gifted" to Warsaw by the Soviet Union in 1955. Framing the Palace's visual, symbolic, and functional prominence in the everyday life of the Polish capital as a sort of obsession, locals joke that their city suffers from a "Palace of Culture complex." Despite attempts to privatize it, the Palace remains municipally owned, and continues to play host to a variety of public institutions and services. The Parade Square, which surrounds the building, has resisted attempts to convert it into a money-making commercial center. Author Michał Murawski traces the skyscraper's powerful impact on 21st century Warsaw; on its architectural and urban landscape; on its political, ideological, and cultural lives; and on the bodies and minds of its inhabitants. The Palace Complex explores the many factors that allow Warsaw's Palace to endure as a still-socialist building in a post-socialist city.

Author Bio

Michał Murawski is Assistant Professor in Critical Area Studies at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London.


"The most brilliant book on a building in many years."

 (Owen Hatherley, author of Trans-Europe Express)

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Table of Contents

Preface: Politicized Perambulations

Introduction: Palace Complex/Complex Palace

1. The Planners: Conceiving the Palace Complex

2. Public Spirit, or the Gift of Noncapitalism

3. Designing Architectural Power: Scale, Style and Location

4. Site-Specific: Varsovian Interpretations of the Palace

5. Varsovianization: The Palace Complex After 1989

6. "The Center of the Very Center"

7. The Extraordinary Palace

Conclusion: Complex Appropriations

Epilogue: The Still-Socialist Palace and the War Against Post-Communism

Appendix: Palaceological Survey: Summary of Results