An architect, creator of the first Warsaw skyscraper, the second tallest building in Europe at that time
He was born in 1884 in Warsaw. He graduated from the Technical University in Dresden and the Warsaw University of Technology. Before the war, he ran his own design office. He was arrested in 1940, and then transferred to the Dachau camp, where he remained as a political prisoner until the end of the war. From 1946, he was the head of the department at the Ministry of Reconstruction, and then the chief architect at the Construction, Town Planning and Architecture Committee. After his death in 1995, he was buried at the Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw.
Weinfeld’s great passion was music, and he even studied at the conservatory in Dresden. At the urging of his father, he decided to study engineering and became an architect. From then on, he only expressed his passions for music by playing Beethoven for his friends.
He developed his career as an architect at a great speed, making good use of the contacts of his wife, Maryla Beth, who came from a wealthy Jewish family. It was thanks to her that Weinfeld met Szymon Landau, a Jewish entrepreneur investing in Warsaw. Weinfeld designed a villa for him in Konstancin, and then the Prudential building, the seat of the British insurance company, in Napoleon Square (today Powstańców Warszawskich Square). The 60-metre skyscraper built between 1931-1933 became a symbol of a modern Warsaw. Thanks to its reinforced concrete structure (designed by Stefan Bryła and Wenczesław Spad), the building survived the war, although it was heavily destroyed.
After the war, the skyscraper was rebuilt, also following Weinfeld’s design, in a new socialist realist style. Until 1955, when the Palace of Culture and Science was built, Prudential had towered above the city. In 1954, the Warszawa Hotel was opened at its premises, which operated until 2002. After a thorough renovation which lasted between 2010-2018, the building was devoid of socialist realist details.
“I put forth the issue relating to the strategy of constructing metaphorical images of time and iconic symbols that are to bridge the distance between “today” and “yesterday / earlier”
It was decided that only its steel structure was worthy of preservation. The length of the renovation, but also the design itself aroused a lot of controversy. However, the renovated hotel alludes very well to the interwar functionalism. Revitalised, it has become one of the most exclusive hotels in Warsaw, and thus returned to the pedestal of the historical and architectural icons of Warsaw.