In the year 1932, the first building of the Vienna 'Feniks' Insurance Company was erected in Cracow, in accordance with the design project of Adolf Szyszko-Bohusz. Four years passed since the moment of the purchase of the building plot by the new proprietor and the selection of Szyszko-Bohusz as the contractor who was to realize the order. The construction work itself was begun in 1931 and the architect displayed great erudition, as well as considerable versatility in applying various architectural conventions. Very shortly he came forward with the realizations relying on the tradition of so called 'commercial houses' in Austria and Germany (or more broadly Central Europe), so as to at other times, take advantage of his own interpretations of the legacy of Polish national heritage which he had worked out before the war (the 'attic-archaizing' projects), or else at other times approach the moderate circles of the Western-European avant-garde (the 'carbol' project) which were most probably a consequence of his earlier projects realized in Krynica and Zegiestów. Ultimately, there arose a realization which was a specific synthesis of the deliberations which Szyszko-Bohusz conducted on the occasion of this realization. In the above realization, we can find both the 'traditional', though strongly transformed elements, such as the attic, which are contrasted with modern solution of the ground floor. Due to its predominantly modern style of architecture in comparison with the surrounding historical buildings (the building differed both in respect of its height which exceeded that of the neighboring houses), Szyszko-Bohusz's realization aroused quite strong emotions both among the critics, and the ordinary Cracow citizens right from the very beginning. An additional factor which undoubtedly influenced the public's increased expectations with regard to this realization, is the fact that the plot on which the building was to be erected, had remained empty since the year 1914. The older buildings which had once stood here were demolished with the view of building a hotel here; yet, due to the new political and economic situation, the hotel had never been built. A foreign investment project in such a prestigious place, realized at the turn of the twenties and thirties of the 20th century, had led to a widespread debate which can be reconstructed on the basis of the articles published in the contemporary press. The debate reflects a whole spectrum of attitudes ranging from conservative views represented by the articles of Stanislaw Tomkowicz, to the opposing and flattering articles of Zbigniew Pronaszko. It would be imprudent to conclude that an outstanding architectural work was thus created in the Market Square. Yet, there can be no doubt that 'Feniks' constitutes a very interesting alternative to the traditional character of Cracow city center. Yet the biggest contribution which 'Feniks' has made to the development of the city is the above-mentioned debate; for it was this debate which revealed how delicate an issue the introduction of the 'new' architecture into the 'old' urban tissue really is.
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