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The Warsaw Voice » Other » September 2, 2009
Economic Forum in Krynica
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Balancing History and Innovation
September 2, 2009   
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Andrzej Siezieniewski, deputy chairman of the management board of the Palace of Culture and Science, talks to Agnieszka Ważyńska.

Built in 1955, the Palace of Culture and Science is now used for entirely different purposes. For example, it has become a convention center. What are the most important factors that allow the Palace to successfully compete with modern office towers in the center of Warsaw?
The main strength of the Palace is that is nothing like the modern office towers you mentioned. This is exactly what makes organizers of the largest meetings for thousands of participants think twice before they pick a modern building like any other in Hamburg, Hong Kong or Chicago. This explains why the Palace is popular with those organizing big conferences, fairs and exhibitions.

While it offers the same modern amenities as big office towers, the Palace boasts unique, charming architecture that makes you want to see what the building looks like inside. It is the only facility of its kind.

This year, we have hosted two world medical congresses and over a dozen large conferences, which means interest in the congress opportunities the Palace remains high in the science and business communities. We are doing our best to meet these people's expectations, especially as these expectations increase as IT and telecommunication technologies develop.

The Palace hosts diverse events for large groups of foreign guests. What do these people think about the Palace and what are they most interested in?
The participants of the two world medical congresses I have mentioned were absolutely enthusiastic about the Palace, mainly because of the exceptional character of the building, but they also highlighted the quality of services we provided. The quality of services has to match the promise the Palace makes through its architecture and appearance. Apart from event organizers, we hear favorable opinions from artists who perform at the Kongresowa Hall, which is one of the most beautiful concert venues in the world. They are fascinated by the beauty and ambiance of the place, even though some people in Poland-thankfully not too many-argue that the Palace is an embarrassment to Warsaw.

What are your plans for the Palace in the coming years? Is some modernization in the books or is the current infrastructure sufficient as it is?
Modernization has to be carried out on a regular basis. The Palace of Culture and Science is almost 55 years old and some of its infrastructure has become outdated. We keep adapting the Palace to European standards by expanding its air-conditioning system and IT and telecommunications infrastructure. Renovation carried out at the Kongresowa Hall so far has converted it into a perfect venue for big commercial projects. A major overhaul of the Hall is scheduled for 2011. We are planning to replace all the stall furnishings in a project that will be supervised by the General Conservator. Each seat will be equipped with facilities for electronic telecommunications and simultaneous interpreting. The modernization of the Kongresowa Hall is an ongoing project thanks to funds invested by the city.

We also plan to create tourist routes inside the Palace. The first one is a tour around the nooks and crannies of the Palace that were until recently closed to the public. The tour begins Sept. 2. We have also been signing agreements with travel agencies to offer organized tours of the Palace.

We want our work to have more to do with the name of the building, which means more long-term exhibitions, including interactive ones, and culture and science-related events. We are also planning to open the beautiful banquet halls of the Palace so that they can host celebrations, wedding parties and grand balls.

Does this mean that innovation will not clash with the spirit of the past?
It most definitely won't and for many visitors, this captivating ornamentation of the halls and rooms is a scenery where they can experience something unique and very personal.
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