Włodzimierz Jan Prochaska (1900–1992)
Prochaska was born on 15 April 1900 in Niepołomice. He was the son of Felicjan and Anna nee Vrana, a Czech. An architecture engineer and academic teacher.
He started his education in 1907, in the St. Stephen Community School in Cracow. Then, he went to secondary schools in Cracow and Żywiec. After the outbreak of World War I, he volunteered for the Legions. In 1917, he passed the secondary school-leaving examinations and began his studies at the Civil Engineering Faculty of the Tsisars-Royal Technical Academy in Lviv. He quit the studies to serve in the Austrian army and later in the Polish one. He was a participant of the Polish – Soviet War. In 1921, he was promoted to lieutenant and began studies at the Faculty of Architecture at the Warsaw University of Technology. His diploma work in urban construction was supervised by Prof. Tadeusz Tołwiński and he defended it in 1927.
He came to Gdynia in the same year. There, he received an assignment to supervise the construction of the first modernist tenement house “Grażyna” in Święteojańska Street (designed by Stanisław Odyniec-Dobrowolski, 1927), and became a pioneer among the certified architects who settled in the city. In 1927, he designed the tenement houses in 1 Plac Kaszubski and in 14 Kościuszki Square (together with his partner, Stanisław Odyniec-Dobrowolski). A year later, the same two architects designed the “Albatros” house in Kamienna Góra. In 1929, the boarding house “Różany Gaj” designed by Prochaska was built there too.
In 1928, Prochaska and his friends from the Warsaw University of Technology opened the company Architectural Design Studio Włodzimierz Prochaska, Stanisław Garliński, Tadeusz Jędrzejewski – architecture engineers. He cooperated with Jędrzejewski on the designs of the “Opolanka” house in 9 Piotra Skargi Street (1928) and the tenement house in 53 Świętojańska Street (1928). The three architects designed a tenement house in 10-12 Kościuszki Square together (1932).
In 1928, Włodzimierz Prochaska founded the Economical Housing Construction Cooperative. Together with Tadeusz Jędrzejewski and Stanisław Garliński he designed a terraced house complex in Focha Street (1931) and in Krzywa Street (1931). In 1931, he became Gdynia’s city planner. In 1933-1935, he was a member of the management of a municipal company called Towarzystwo Budowy Osiedli (Association for Estate Construction) for which he prepared serial designs of wooden houses in Witomino together with Jędrzejewski. In 1937-1939, he was the president of the Pomeranian Branch of the Association of Polish Architects.
During World War II, he served at the front and was an internee of the Winterthur university camp. He was the academic leader of the architecture group there. In December 1945, he returned to Poland and two months later he became the head of the Construction Department at the Gdynia – Ameryka Linie Żeglugowe w Gdyni (Gdynia – America Shipping Services in Gdynia). In 1946, he began an academic career at the Faculty of Architecture of the Gdańsk University of Technology as the head of the Construction Basics and Structural Components Unit. In the same year, he became the manager for Experimental Construction at the Gdańsk Reconstruction Authority. Among others, he worked on the use of cane in construction in this unit.
The exhibition pavilions which he designed for the Gdańsk International Fair which took place in Sopot were constructed in 1947. The construction of a sports arena in Łódź began too (1947-1959). In 1956, he became the head of the Industrial Architectural Design Unit at the Gdańsk University of Technology. In 1956-1958, he was the dean at the University’s Faculty of Architecture. In 1960, a monograph Szkło w budownictwie (Glass in Construction) by Prochaska and Romuald Połujan was published. Since 1961, the architect was a member of Gdynia’s Municipal Planning Committee. In 1986, he defended his doctoral thesis entitled “Definicje architektury na tle przemian jej pojmowania, podziału zawodu na specjalności oraz prognozy” (“Definitions of Architecture and the Changes in Its Perception, the Job’s Division Into Specializations and Prognoses”).
Włodzimierz Prochaska died on 17th February 1992 in Warsaw and was burried in the cemetery in the Bródno district.