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introduction                     personae                     thanks

I compose and design every single aspect of my life because I am an architect.

Before I explain – according to the wish of the authors of the project of “Architect beyond Architecture” – why I gave up my architectural profession sensu stricto, let me say why I became an architect in the first place.

I was born in Krakow in 1960 as a son of Witold Donimirski and Renata Donimirska, née Stablewska. After passing my A levels at the King John III Sobieski Lyceum in Krakow in the early 1980’s, like many young people of my generation who were dejected by the gloominess of the communist regime, I planned to leave Poland for ever. I chose architecture because I considered it an „international” career, moreover without the necessity to master a foreign language. I was really fed up with studying mathematics, physics and other school subjects. When it turned out that I had a gift for drawing I did not hesitate. I studied at the Krakow University of Technology and then at the Faculty of Architecture in Aachen. Later, I worked at the architectural firms in Germany (for one year) and in Los Angeles (two years). In the USA I designed golf courses and a house, which I am proud to note has survived a major earthquake.

To begin the proper story of my career shift I must go back in time. When I was 16, owing to a completely unusual Polish People’s Republic court’s decision, I inherited – though only nominally at that time –half of the Puget Palace with adjoining buildings in Staro wiślna street (former Bohaterów Stalingradu) in Krakow. I had the deeds of the palace but at that time it had no real significance as it was the communist government that decided who is allowed to own the property and where people are allowed to live.

I came back to Poland in 1989 with 12 thousand US dollars in my pocket. I also borrowed 100 thousand German marks from friends. I decided that the change of political system and a shock economic transformation provided me with an opportunity which was much more exciting than a routine career that awaited me in the USA. The palace was a challenge I could not give up. I took the deeds in my name from the court and went to live in the ruined building. I hired labourers and worked with them on site. The renovation of the palace gave me a chance of putting my knowledge as an architect into practice and not only that. The subject of my overdue diploma design at the Faculty of Architecture in 1991 was “The Renovation of the Puget Palace, Starowiślna Street 13 and 15”.

In 1990 I set up “Donimirski Puget Palace Business Center ”, a real estate firm which has been on the market ever since.

In 1992 I married Anna, née Tarnowska, giving rise to the offspring of three sons: Stefan, Władysław and Jan; and two daughters Helena and Maria. Restoring the ruined and dilapidated historic buildings for the benefit of the present and the future, has become my lifelong passion. In the last 20 years I have taken up many challenges such as restoring the castle in Korzkiew (it partly opened to the public in 2004), establishing the Hotel Maltański (2000), the Hotel Pugetów (2002), the hotel „Na Gródku” (2005) and restoring from ruins the Dwór Kościuszko (Kościuszko Manor) Hotel (2008). All these splendid buildings in turn became the apple of my eye, but I must say that I have the greatest sentiment for the castle in Korzkiew. The restoring of the Gothic and Renaissance “Eagle’s nest” [as the castles in the whereabouts of Krakow Jura are called] was a challenge that required an innovative approach.

I am always happy to be able to come up with a good design solution. Let me mention one concerning the Gródek hotel – the replacing of the old wooden walkways, which now run along the courtyard elevation. They enlarge the usable space of the rooms; and because they were previously located in another place, such a solution helped to save them from demolition.

Obviously, I employ architects and expect them to come up with their individual, appropriate and correct design solution. I always have my own ideas but never persevere if they do not work. I act as a project manager, architectural aspect being only one among my other concerns. My knowledge of the subject is more complete than an architect’s one, enabling me to supervise the whole and intervene if necessary. However, I guess that one can collaborate with me quite agreeably. In my debates with an architect I often raise the level and standard of the investment. I can afford to increase the budget!

Architecture has provided me with a capability and need to assess the form and function of everything I do in life. My composing and designing based on analysis, knowledge, independent thinking and sensitivity I am trying to apply to every aspect of my life.

My main motivation is not economy but the joy of “architectural composition”. This is how I try to run my business and – what is important – to choose my collaborators; this is also how the Donimirski Boutique Hotels come into existence.

Jerzy Donimirski
Krakow, June 2010

More at www.donimirski.com

photo by Piotr Markowski

Copyright by Konrad Glos, Rafal Zub 2010