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KOLEJOWY.
History of the New Center of Łódź and Kobro Square


2006

Minus eighteen degrees Celsius. Few cars can be seen on the streets of Łódź, most of them stuck in huge snowdrifts. Ice-covered roads sparkle in the sun. At 10am, the notary office at Żwirki Street is still empty. Slowly, first journalists and reporters trickle in. Finally, the heroes of the day appear: American director David Lynch, architect and businessman Andrzej Walczak, and director of Camerimage film festival, Marek Żydowicz. They vanish behind the door. Peeping does not make much sense, as glass panes in the door are cut a way which distorts everything inside. Time passes slowly in the cool air filled with the aura of anxious waiting. At last, the door swings open. There are three men sitting behind a table, smiling. They have just founded a foundation. A forest of microphones springs up in front of them, photo journalists struggle to stand as close as possible.
‘Fundacja Sztuki Świata (Arts of the World Foundation) is a part of the process of building the new Łódź. We want to promote our city through art,’ Andrzej Walczak comments.
‘From the very first visit, I fell in love with Łódź, its atmosphere and buildings,’ David Lynch confesses. ‘When I saw Łódź factories, I nearly fainted, so beautiful they were. And the heat and power plant in the city centre is like a dream.’
This is how it all began.

The Foundation announces that it plans to open a centre of art in the closed down and abandoned EC1 heat and power plant, located at Targowa Street, right next to the railway station. On the 7th of February, Łódź and PKP S.A. (Polish State Railways) sign a master development agreement about cooperation regarding the area of the Łódź Fabryczna railway station. On the 31st of May, the City Council unanimously decide to give the building of the historic EC1 power plant to the World Art Foundation and earmark it as an art centre. On the 25th of November, the very first model of EC1 and the neighbouring area is ready with the plant chimney dominating over flat boxes representing buildings around the station. It is clear why David Lynch calls it a ‘chimney place.’

2007

Rob Krier, a Luxemburg-based town-planner and architect visits Łódź. A week before, on the 17th of January, Dariusz Pawłowski announced in Dziennik Łódzki (a local daily paper): ’Rob Krier, a world famous architect, the author of revitalisation of many European cities, will come to Łódź on the 26th of January at the invitation of Fundacja Sztuki Świata. Krier is creating a plan of land development in the area of the Łódź Fabryczna railway station which is situated next to the EC1 heat and power plant at Targowa Street. ’In this area, it is possible to create a new city centre without demolishing anything. The centre will attract tourists, investors and curious people from around the world,’ Walczak explains. ’The centre with a market which Łódź lacks. With a big and modern concert and festival hall. With a modern art museum. It is a huge project, encompassing hectares. Its implementation requires cooperation of local and regional authorities in winning investors and assets from the EU fundings.’

The town-planner spends three days in the city. He watches the city, contemplates it, drawing the first sketches, before he offers – as he calls it – to repair the urban tissue. Krier’s lecture entitled Jak buduje się miasto (How to build a city) at the Technical University of Łódź is attended by over five hundred people. The architect shows his projects. His ideas are not limited to single buildings but encompass large urban spaces, entire quarters and districts of the city. In an interview for Marta Skłodowska from Gazeta Wyborcza (a Polish daily paper), taken on the 5th of February, Krier spreads his vision: ’Industrial buildings in Łodź are of unique quality! What is more, the technical elements are just beautiful. The EC1 power plant, with all its Art Nouveau details, is a fine piece of genuine architecture, much more striking that the Pompidou Centre in Paris, a false image of which has little in common with its function. A city organism is like a human body. It has to breathe, think and rest. All these activities have to be brought back. The already existing facilities will be assigned cultural functions. Of course, we will supplement them with new buildings. This way, a new solution will emerge. Unique on a world scale, it will fit well into the traditions of Łódź. Common space, i.e. the market square, will be a very important element here.’ He also adds, ’I offered to help Łódź in preparation of a master plan. It is my speciality and I’ve worked on city reconstruction my entire life. Something special has to be created, as well as a spatial continuation of streets needs to be planned. Such a project requires support of all the groups which have something to say on the matter. Only a stable situation will make work on such a large area in the centre of the city possible.’

In March, Krier visits Łódź again to present his general plan for Łódź, just as he promised. ’A scale model of the city centre is ready, we can dig in a shovel,’ Jakub Wiewiórski comments in Gazeta Wyborcza on the 5th of March. In his article entitled ‘Celebrities will design Łódź. Krier, Libeskind, Gehry – the greatest architects of the world – will challenge each other in Poland,’ published in Dziennik Polska – Europa – Świat (a Polish daily paper) on the 14-15th of April, Maciej Stańczyk announces: ’Piotrkowska Street, regarded as a showcase of Łódź, will get a rival in just a few years. Two blocks away, on the 90-hectare area next to the Łódź Fabryczna railway station, in the vicinity of the local community centre (Łódzki Dom Kultury), the seat of the local TV station and a hundred-year-old heat and power plant, a new city centre will be created. Its purpose is to seize all sorts of culture initiatives. It will become the artistic heart of the city, visited by artists from around the world.’

May 30th, 2007. The City Council of Łódź passes a resolution concerning the project of ’Revitalisation of EC1 and its adaptation for cultural and artistic purposes‘ in order to strengthen the position of Łódź as a centre of culture of extraregional significance. The redeveloped industrial buildings will now be the cradle of creative energy. In July, the city of Łódź and railway companies (PKP S.A. and PKL S.A.) sign a partnership agreement. It concerns development of the New Centre of Łódź project, creation of a special zone of art and culture, all in close relation to the historic complex of EC1 and the Łódź Fabryczna railway station. PKP S.A. and PLK S.A. undertake to rebuild the station so that it can be included in a cross-city line service for regional and high-speed trains running underground through the centre of Łódź. Both sides of the agreement will make efforts to gain funds for a project involving moving the railway between Łódź Widzew and Łódź Fabryczna stations underground. Planning works are based on the urban project by Rob Krier. On the 3rd of August, Jakub Wiewiórkowski states in his front-page article in Gazeta Wyborcza entitled Move the station underground, and culture – overground: ’In 6 years, travellers will get on and off the train at the underground Łódź Fabryczna coach and railway station. Włodzimierz Tomaszewski, the deputy mayor, announces that an agreement concerning creation of a new centre in the vicinity of the railway station and EC1 heat and power plant has been signed.’

In June, a delegation from Łódź, including Jerzy Kropiwnicki, the mayor of Łódź, Włodzimierz Fisiak, the voivodeship marshal, Krzysztof Candrowicz, the director of the Fotofestiwal, and Andrzej Walczak of the Arts of the World Foundation, went to Brussels in order to promote Łódź as a candidate to the title of the European Capital of Culture. Rob Krier, the author of the plan of new city centre in the vicinity of Łódź Fabryczna and EC1 is an honour member of the delegation of the Republic of Poland to the EU. ’I feel as if Łódź was my youngest child, needing a lot of my help. Łódź is more than beautiful front elevations, Poznański Palace and Scheibler. It is also all that is hidden a few meters further. Structures which need vigorous renovation,’ Krier confesses in his interview for Marta Skłodowska. ’There is no guarantee that Łódź will become the European Capital of Culture. We need to remember, though, that being a candidate alone is a remarkable feat. It is a boost of energy which the city needs in order to continue developing. It still requires very long preparations and a lot of sweat. Winning in 2016 would perfectly crown achievement of such efforts. Nothing happens just like that, however. Construction of the new city centre will take 15 years. Hence, we need to start as soon as possible. The culture and festival centre, providing space for such institutions as a museum of modern art, a theatre (also an experimental one), galleries or a space for concerts and continuation of grand film traditions of Łódź, is not the only essential element of the project. The modernised underground railway station, an integral part of the project, is also important. Thanks to it, it will be possible to reach Berlin by train without changes.’ On the 2nd of August, Włodzimierz Tomaszewski, the deputy mayor of Łódź, announces signing of a contract with the railway companies regarding construction of the new centre in the area of the Łódź Fabryczna railway station and EC1: the station and platforms will be situated underground, whereas the emptied ground level area will be used according to the spatial development project by Rob Krier.

28th of August, 2007. The City Council of Łódź unanimously approves the New Centre of Łódź Programme. In a preface to the resolution, we read: ’The area of the New Centre is to be created in the central part of the city, on the area of 90ha, surrounded by the following streets – Tuwima, Narutowicza, Sienkiewicza and Kopcińskiego. The area includes the Łódź Fabryczna railway station with all its facilities and surroundings, the very first place seen by a newcomer to Łódź. All endeavours related to moving the station and its infrastructure underground, and creation of modern transport solutions optimising transport services in the region, are of crucial importance. As a result, the functions of the city, regional and international transport will be combined in one central junction. The mail goal of the programme is to create a new, fully functional city centre with multiple public spaces, which will be created with the use of private capital.’

On the same day, Monika Kuc wrote in Rzeczpospolita (a Polish broadsheet): ’According to Krier, the city lives on streets and plazas. Hence, the central point of his project is Katarzyna Kobro’s market square. It will be easily converted into an open-air stage. The square will be surrounded by objects of culture. (...) Krier plans to situate the so called zone of art with a contemporary art centre and streets of four cultures on the opposite side of the square (the present railway area). The cultures – Polish, Jewish, Russian and German – will represent the traditional multiculturalism of the city.’

In August, the city opens an architectural contest for the Interactive Museum of Technology in the buildings of EC1 a bit younger than the one-hundred-year-old machine hall. At the press conference held in the City of Łódź Office on the 8th of November, the results of the contest are announced. A project by Biuro Realizacji Inwestycji “Fronton’ and Pracownia Architektoniczna Mirosława Wiśniewskiego wins. The jury (including prof. Krzysztof Pawłowski, head of the Institute of Architecture and Town-planning of the Technical University of Łódź and Marek Lisiak, the city architect) notices ’proper proportion in the amount of preserved elements of the authentic industrial equipment and new elements of the museum-exhibition-education programme‘ and ’the search for new forms of architecture directly related to the traditional development of Łódź city centre.’ Half a year later, the winning consortium and the city of Łódź sign a contract for the working plans and specifications of the Interactive Museum of Technology, which is to be created on the 3,5 ha area of EC1 West and EC1 South East.

Projects and visualisations of the New Centre of Łódź, including the entire EC1 complex, are presented in the City of Łódź Office on the 29th of November. Renata Sas writes on the 30th of November in Express Ilustrowany (a daily paper): ’They can be viewed, and opinions of Łódź people are most welcome. As Zbigniew Bińczyk of Biuro Realizacji Inwestycji Fronton (...) mentioned, the authors of the projects meant to respect most of what exists and destroy as little as possible.’ Michał Lenarciński joins her in Dziennik Łódzki: ’City authorities are delighted with the idea to create a new centre of Łódź in the area of EC1 (between Kilińskiego and Tuwima Streets, using the premises of the Łódź Fabryczna railway station). (...) The project will include: Special Zone of Culture, including the Special Zone of Art, Kobro Market Square, Congress and Festival Centre, as well as revitalisation and adaptation of EC1 for the purposes of culture and art.’ The city announces that it is waiting for Łódź people opinions regarding the project. For that purpose, a special questionnaire is published on the City of Łódź Office webpage. Andrzej Walczak of the Arts of the World Foundation presents the first EC1 jeans – ’trousers of extraordinary cotton (420 g in weight), dyed with real indigo. 4,444,444 pairs will be produced. They will be given to those who want to do something for the sake of art. (...) It may happen that they will be sold in order to collect funds for an artistic event. Selling 20,000 pieces of trousers could result in bringing a rock legend – Led Zeppelin – to Łódź!’ (an excerpt from the article entitled EC1, art and... trousers, published in Express Ilustrowany). Dziennik Łódzki: ‘Andrzej Walczak, the co-founder of the Arts of the World Foundation, informs that a campaign promoting the investment has already started. One of its elements is, already set in motion, collecting of books for the World Library. Celebrities will contribute five books each, in return receiving jeans manufactured especially for that occasion.’ In April 2008, the InStyle magazine writes: ’The first trousers which will sponsor Polish culture. Made of ecological cotton and dyed with Indian indigo.’

2008

Two years have passed since the creation of the World Art Foundation. We get more ideas and even more excitement. But the best ideas are not understood until they are appreciated by someone from afar, someone important. That is why we should not worry about the initial indifference towards a brave vision. Even if it only evokes an indifferent shrugging of shoulders. But not forever. Finally, one day, in this story it happened on 1 February, a sentence uttered in the right time before the right person changes the non-believers' looks into a conviction that it is worth something. The amount of the words uttered shape the course of events, and the gap between today and tomorrow becomes significantly smaller.

The empty walls of an old thermal power plant, along which three men stroll, tightly wrapped in their coats with raised collars to protect them from the icy wind, seem to be facing glamorous future. And two sentences, recorded by journalists, broadcasted by television, repeated by information agencies, printed the next day in newspapers, give the initiator wings, they seize sceptics, they become a mantra by the means of which we want to put a spell on the reality.

‘The redevelopment project of EC1 is, as far as I know, one of the most interesting cultural ventures in Europe. Nowhere in Europe is there such a huge space in the centre of a city which could undergo a total redevelopment,’ said Bogdan Zdrojewski, Minister of Culture. Andrzej Walczak brought him to the quiet and peaceful Targowa Street, located just next to the railway tracks, which abruptly end in the centre of Łódź. This is to change soon; Cezary Grabarczyk, Minister of Transportation, also came from Warsaw and the talks regarding the idea are promising. The idea of a new city centre at the location of the Łódź Fabryczna station and EC1 finds support; the natural solution seems to be to lead the silver railway line under the city centre. Both ministers announce their support for the project, which is to be the first such a complex and radical plan for a city.

The next morning, Marek Żydowicz finds out about the run of good luck for Łódź from the media. For him, only one name counts: Frank O. Gehry. To meet with Gehry he flew all the way to the USA, with one plan on his mind: Camerimage festival centre designed by the world’s most expensive architect. That is why he invited him to Łódź. Before Gehry’s arrival, Brian Aamoth, his right hand, conducted correspondence with the World Art Foundation to find out the cost of the visit. The sum was set at USD 29.000,00.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, at the end of February, a crowd of excited journalists gather in Targowa Street waiting for the arrival of the star of world’s architecture. As the minutes pass, the excitement doesn't wear off. At the gate, a small crowd awaits the guest who is to visit the EC1 thermal power plant. TV crews and cameras all poised, questions had been prepared in advance. There is an atmosphere of celebration and hope that the 79-year old architect whose grandparents migrated from Łódź to the New World will bring us something special. Even if it’s only words. Łódź, so well prepared for the visit of the ministers three weeks ago, now makes an evasive action. At the airport, the president is waiting for the guest. When Gehry’s private jet lands, Andrzej Walczak with his assistant and Marek Żydowicz from the World Art Foundation welcome the guest. They go to talk at Walczak’s office. After only 15 minutes in Łódź, Gehry becomes impatient realising there is no chance for any advance payment and out of frustration he concludes that the meeting may as well be finished. The whole meeting lasts half an hour, Marek Żydowicz asks Jacek Michalak, the director of the World Art Foundation at that time, to leave.

’You are not worthy to kiss my feet,’ Gehry says to Walczak. That’s his reaction to the attempt to interest him in the project of the New Centre of Łódź, not the richest city in the world. At that time, Gehry was the most expensive architect in the world – and he was not coy about it. The awkwardness of the situation slowly grows visible, but the crowd in Targowa is still waiting, full of vague but great expectations that Gehry will find there something lest of place for himself. Finally, two cars arrive. Gehry turns out to be a rather short, grey-haired gentleman wearing a black sweater and a jacket. He seems displeased with something and to the journalists’ surprise he waves off the microphones. Marek Żydowicz pushes the journalists back signalling not to ask any questions. The men walk into the old plant, photojournalists peer through the windows. Through some broken window panes someone succeeds at taking a photo of Walczak explaining to Gehry the idea of the creation of the new centre. Journalists, full of hope and attention, after breaking the ice at the Atlas gallery, are still counting for an interview or at least a short statement by the master, which will become a herald of a beautiful future. To everybody’s surprise, all predictions fail as the guest disappears as quickly as he appeared.

For a month now, Atlas Sztuki has been featuring an exhibition entitled “Rob Krier for Łódź”; there are designs, drawings, and a sketch of the future centre. Gehry walks around the colour plan of the new centre, which fills the entire floor. Appealing to Gehry’s roots does not help either. He writes on one of the gallery’s window panes: ’My mother was born here. She left in 1913. If she stayed, I wouldn’t have existed.’ Only a few people participate in a private lunch in Pub 97 at Piotrkowska Street. Żydowicz is uneasy all the time. Hopes fade, mayors Jerzy Kropiwnicki and Włodzimierz Tomaszewski have no real design offer Gehry in Łódź. The belief that Gehry’s appearance in Łódź will spark a miracle is shattered. No statements, no biding declarations, no money – even to cover the cost of the reception organised in the honour of the guest.

Kropiwnicki, disappointed that Gehry doesn’t want journalists inside, leaves after 15 minutes. Throughout the entire lunch, Tomaszewski doesn’t say a word. The conversation was in English. As it turns out, no one apart from Żydowicz wanted this visit.

Could you imagine the situation Łódź might have been into? Architect fees were enormous, the design and the realisation before the crisis which struck world economy a few months later would have cost us unbelievable money. If the meeting ended in signing a contract, in a year’s time its value would have been a third of the original. Time is the best negotiator.

Also in February, the city announces the second contest for the Special Zone of Art. The main prize is PLN 150 000. The first edition, held in September, 2007, did not yield satisfactory results. ’None of the 6 projects which entered the contest satisfied our expectations. A museum at the heart of the new city centre has to be a special symbol, a place of unique attractiveness,’ Włodzimierz Tomaszewski, the deputy mayor, comments.

Marek Lisiak, the city architect, joins him: ’Although the idea of reconstruction of the centre of Łódź, including the project of changes in urban planning by Rob Krier, is well known in Poland (and in Europe, I believe), each individual action should still aim at its promotion.’ The mayor of Łódź, Jerzy Kropiwnicki, writes a letter with an invitation to participate in the contest: ’The City of Łódź Office announces an architectural contest for development of the Special Zone of Art, the first facility in the New Centre of Łódź. Its construction, in the vicinity of the Łódź Fabryczna railway station, was approved by the City Council. I am convinced that the contest will produce a project which will propose a new formula of art presentation. After the market square, set on the plans of the new city centre, I want, like most Łódź people do, to see the so much needed place of modern art – full of a spirit of the four cultures.’ A deadline for submission of contest works is set on the 6th of June. Two months prior to the date, 35 teams announce their participation. ’The contest is open. Everyone with a concept for the museum building can participate. It will be promoted in prestigious architectural journals.’ (Monika Pawlak, Dziennik Łódzki). ’We are waiting for a unique project since we want our Special Zone of Art to become the icon of Łódź, the archcathedral of art,’ Włodzimierz Tomaszewski, the deputy mayor, explains.

9th of April, 2008. The City Council founds an Institution of Culture EC1 Łódź – City of Culture, an institution meant to take care of the progress of the New Centre of Łódź programme. EC1 Łódź – City of Culture will coordinate work in the New Centre of Łódź, revitalisation of historic buildings, cooperation with railway companies which take part in the project, and fund collecting. It might also organise culture events. Małgorzata Szpakowska-Korkiewicz, the director of the legal department of the City of Łódź Office, is the first director of the institution. She is then replaced by Adam Komorowski, the director of EC1 Łódź – City of Culture to this day.

26th of June, 2008. Architects and scientists who take part in the conference on revitalisation models in the cities of European heritage, organised by the Technical University of Łódź, visit the EC1 heat and power plant. ’This session coincides with one of the largest revitalisation projects in Łódź,’ Ireneusz Zbiciński, the Technical University of Łódź vice-rector, says during the conference opening. The entire morning session is devoted to the construction of the New Centre of Łódź in the area of EC1 and the Łódź Fabryczna railway station.

5th of July, 2008. Bogdan Zdrojewski, the Minister of Culture, and Cezary Grabarczyk, the Minister of Infrastructure, come to a hundred-year-old EC1 in order to see the results of the contest for the project of the Special Art Zone. A German team of Möller Architekten and Ingenieure BDA wins. They want to construct a translucent tube next to the Kobro Market Square. The tube will contain a rectangular building inside it. It was one of 19 projects assessed by the jury: chairman – prof. Marek Pabich from the Institute of Architecture of the Technical University of Łódź; vice-chairman – Gerhard Jürgen Blum-Kwiatkowski, the director of Museum Modern Art Hünfeld; contest juror – Marek Lisiak, the city architect; honour chairman – Roman Opałka, a world famous painter; jurors – Andrzej Walczak, Marek Żydowicz and Roman Wieszczek of the District Chamber of Architects. The winners are three cooperating studios, led by Charly Möller, an architect working in Kassel, Frankfurt and New York. They won the first prize for the ’clarity of form which distinguishes itself from the architectural and urban background; flexibility of functional solutions, necessary in a contemporary museum; search for spatial and exhibition-related links between the facility and its surroundings; simplicity and expression of building architecture as a sign of the city space.’ Before Bogdan Zdrojewski announces the winners, directors of PKP and Łódź authorities sign a contract approving a new transportation layout in the New Centre of Łódź. ’The transport junction will be reconstructed by 2013. The Łódź Fabryczna railway and coach station will be moved 16 m underground. When the new transport layout will be set, new facilities will be erected and some of the old ones (those which are in good enough condition) will be revitalised. (...) The idea to build the New Centre of Łódź in the city centre, now occupied by abandoned factories, warehouses, thicket, coal-yards and railway (as described on the EC1 webpage) started with the idea to create the Kobro Market Square. It is meant to be a place devoted to a famous sculptor of the interwar period, the wife of Władysław Strzemiński, an avant-garde artist. She was also a co-founder of the a.r. group, whose series originated the collection of the Łódź Museum of Art. Special Culture Zone, including the Special Art Zone building, will be created around the market square. In the east, the square will face a festival centre, whereas in the south it will touch the revitalised facilities of the heat and power plant. The Special Culture Zone will include the Special Zone of Art, surrounded with four streets named in relation to the multicultural traditions of Łódź: Polish, Jewish, German and Russian. Districts of culture representatives will be created in their area.’ (Anna Pawłowska, Dziennik Łódzki)

16th of September, 2008. The voivodeship council members unanimously pass the budget project for the Special Art Zone. They decide that the project will receive PLN 96.5 million. On the 24th of September, the City Council resolves that Łódź will contribute another PLN 96.5 million to the project. Łódź council members pass a resolution regarding partnership in the project of the Special Art Zone – Łódź will be the leading party, with Łódzkie voivodeship acting as a partner.

27th of October, 2008. City authorities and Möller Architekten + Ingenieure BDA sign a contract regarding design and author’s supervision over the Special Art Zone a coordination meeting regarding preparation of project documentation, held on the 13th of November, 2008, Andrzej Walczak gives content-related programme of the Special Art Zone to the city authorities, containing the idea and functional-utility programmes, and a graphic part. EC1 Lodz Foundation is registered on the 25th of November, 2008. Its goal is to continue what the Arts of the World Foundation started.

16th of December, 2008. EC1 Łódź – Miasto Kultury and the syndicate of SYSTRA AREP Ville and BBF Sp. z o.o. sign a contract regarding preparation of a feasibility study of land development in the area of the planned dig site (area of the railway station) and preparation of documentation to be used in application regarding EU funding of the New Centre of Łódź project. During the press conference held on the 29th of December, 2008, ‘Polish TGV’ is mentioned, i.e. high speed trains, reaching the top speed of 300 km/h. The Łódź Fabryczna railway station will be closed in 2010. Its functions will be then taken over– for the period of time needed to build the new underground Łódź Fabryczna – by the Łódź-Widzew railway station. In his article entitled Łódź at the heart of Europe, Jakub Wiewiórski writes that ‘four railway tracks will be constructed between Łódź Fabryczna and Łódź-Widzew railway stations. Two of them will be used for the Polish TGV, i.e. high speed trains connecting Łódź and Warsaw, Poznań and Wrocław, whereas the remaining two will be used by the traditional rail.’ Anna Pawłowska of Dziennik Łódzki adds that ’works at Łódź Kaliska and Łódź Widzew railway stations will start next year. Łódź Widzew will service all trains which used to end their run at Łódź Fabryczna. The station building itself will disappear from the face of the earth. A new one will be built several metres below the ground level. In the future, it will be connected to the Łódź Kaliska railway station. ’First, we need to rebuild the surroundings of Łódź Widzew and Łódź Kaliska stations. (...) We will build new parking lots in cooperation with the city. There will be a new access road and several new buildings. What is more, a railway track connecting Łódż Kaliska and Łódź Widzew needs to be modernised so that the journey between them takes no more than 12 minutes. A similar project, involving moving a railway station below the ground, was made in Barcelona. Negotiations took 8 years, and talks with administration, railway and government representatives were the most difficult part. Łódź dealt with this task very quickly,’ Paweł Olczyk, the vice-chairman of PKP S.A., said. Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, a member of the European Parliament who comes from Łódź, says that he plans to present an exhibition concerning the New Centre of Łódź in Brussels next year. On the 31st of December, 2008, the City of Łódź Office issues a construction permit for the complex of EC1 historic buildings.

A press conference ‘Koleje Miasta’ (City Routes), held on 29 December 2008 in the headquarters of the Institution of Culture EC1 Łódź – Miasto Kultury, featured Cezary Grabarczyk, Minister of Infrastructure. He was able to learn about the progress of the ready-to-commence New Centre of Łódź project, especially the Special Art Zone project. Among other people participating in the meeting were: Jolanta Chełmińska, the Łódzkie Province voivode; Włodzimierz Fisiak, Łódzkie Voivodship Marshall; Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Chairman of EU Foreign Affairs Committee; and representatives of railway companies: PKP S.A., PKP PLK S.A., and PKP Intercity S.A. who presented a plan of construction at the current location of the Łódź Fabryczna train station a multi-mode station, which would solve public transportation problems of Central Poland.




2009

4th of February, 2009. Bogdan Zdrojewski, the Minister of Culture, assigns PLN 690 million of European funding to various culture projects. His press conference is transmitted live over the Internet. The minister informs that there are several projects remaining as a backup, but he mentions only one, the Special Art Zone. He says that ’it is a project which relies heavily on another infrastructure investment – railway.’ Everything depends on the start of the railway investment.

11th of March, 2009. Łódź authorities, PKP S.A. and PLK S.A. sign a contract regarding their common investment in the area of the New Centre of Łódź. The sides wanted to find legal forms which would allow them to search together for a strategic investor and conduct investment activities within the New Centre of Łódź project in cooperation. On the 19th of March, 2009, the Programme Council at the Institution of Culture EC1 Łódź – City of Culture has its first session. Its responsible, among others, for forming opinions and issuing applications in all issues related to statutory tasks of the institution.

1st of April, 2009. The Parliament Street exhibition is opened in the seat of the European Parliament. The exhibition promotes the Special Art Zone in Łódź. Five young architects from Łódź – Monika Bachmańska, Anna Dzwonecka, Arkadiusz Sarlej, Zofia Szajdzińska and Ewa Szczepańska – work with Eurodeputies on the facades of buildings which depict regions or cities of these deputies in a symbolic way. 14 facades of tenement houses are prepared for: Margie Sudre (France), Anna Ibrisagic (Sweden), Othmar Karas (Austria), Jean Marinescu (Romania), Doris Pack (Germany), Maria Petre (Romania), Corien Wortmann-Kool (the Netherlands) and for Poles – Jerzy Buzek, Małgorzata Handzlik, Filip Kaczmarek, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Zbigniew Zaleski, Jan Olbrycht and Tadeusz Zwiefka. Well before the opening, the street is roamed by Belgian students who visit the European Parliament. Polish ambassador in Belgium, Sławomir Czarlewski, and Polish ambassador at the EU, Jan Tombiński, are both present at the opening. The presentation is prepared by EC1 Lodz Foundation under the patronage of Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, who says: ’We want to promote Łódź in the EU as a city of culture, a city which is very European due to its multicultural tradition. At the same time, it is a city which has numerous ideas about culture, i.e. EC1. The exhibition differs from standard exhibitions since it is an interactive one, instead of just a sum of images or photos. For the moment, it is made of 14 facades – Łódź tenement houses. Each of them has been designed by a young architect from Łódź, basing on an interview with one particular Eurodeputy who described what he or she is proud of or what their country contributed to Europe. We called the exhibition The Parliament Street and gave it a subtitle –Łódź at the heart of Europe. We wish for it to live longer and lead us to the title of the European Capital of Culture in the year 2016. As a webpage, it will become a place of discussion on Europe – culture – Łódź. There are over 50 Eurodeputies on our list who want to join the project. More facades will be created, translating ideas into the language of images. The exhibition will be enlarged and displayed in the European Institute in Łódź.

14th of May, 2009. The mayor’s board approves guidelines regarding preparation of a Local Development Plan for the area between Narutowicza, Kopcińskiego and Tuwima streets, towards the east from the planned extension of Uniwersytecka street. A day later, the city issues an application to the Marshall’s Office regarding extra funding of the Revitalisation of EC1 and its adaptation for the purposes of culture and art project. The project is in the Indicative List of Major Projects of the Regional Operations Project of the Łódzkie Voivodeship for the years 2007-2013.

4th of June, 2009. The mayor’s board approves functional and spatial guidelines for the central part of the New Centre of Łódź. Materials provided by EC1 Lodz Foundation, the fruit of three years of work on the project, were used by Andrzej Walczak and Marek Lisiak to prepare the guidelines which are the basis for further development of the project in this area (among others, for the syndicate led by SYSTRA, preparing the feasibility study on behalf of the Institution of Culture EC1 Łódź – City of Culture).

8th of July, 2009. Łódź mayor, Jerzy Kropiwnicki, and PKP S.A. directors, Jacek Derwisiński and Grzegorz Nita, sign a notary act regarding the exchange of land between the city and the railways. The company handed 15,000 square meters over to the city of Łódź, in exchange for 12,000 square metres. Jerzy Kropiwnicki says: ’We are signing the first of many documents. It is all to settle the issue of ownership of the land where the New Centre of Łódź, the new Łódź Fabryczna station and the Łódź Fabryczna-Łódź Kaliska tunnel will be built. An agreement concerning common participation in the investment will be developed before the end of July.’

On 26 September 2009, with support from Cezary Grabarczyk, Minister of Infrastructure, an agreement was signed by the City of Łódź, PKP PLK S.A., the Institution of Culture EC1 Łódź – Miasto Kultury and the Self-government of the Łódzkie Voivodship for realisation of a feasibility study for a cross-town tunnel linking the Łódź Fabryczna and Łódź Kaliska train stations. This agreement is vital for the entire high-speed trains in Poland project, which is to link Warsaw, Łódź, Poznań and Wrocław. ‘High-speed railway, which will link four largest municipal areas in Poland, is the new task on route to a modern transportation system. I wish to stress that this program is possible thanks to government decisions, but also thanks to the fact that Łódź and Łódzkie Voivodship are truly interested in it and do not hesitate to assign financial means for this cause,’ Grabarczyk said. ‘Without the engagement of local governments, creation of high-speed railway would take place much later. This project must include one task: a tunnel underneath Łódź, which will link the Łódź Fabryczna and Łódź Kaliska train stations. Without financial aid from Łódź, the support of the Marshall and the Voivodship Authorities, the Railways would not be able to manage this problem. (…) There is a chance that when we start working on the railway line, which, according to the government program, is scheduled for 2014, in four years’ time we will be ready to start the first train, which will travel at 350 km/h. It is possible that the efforts of the Self-government of Łódź and of the Voivodship may bring about another result: a repair and maintenance centre for Polish high-speeds. Łódź will be located on the route of all proposed lines and this is the perfect place for it. This means new work places and new investments. This centre will have to provide the highest level of services because such railway lines must be fully computerised, automatic and 100% safe. This will be our trademark for the 21st century. I wish to thank all who helped to make this agreement come to happen so quickly, turning words into actions.’

On 22 October 2009, Daniel Libeskind, a world-famous architect with Łódź origins, who cooperates with RHEINZINK, visited Łódź to deliver a special lecture during the Łódź Design festival. A meeting with Daniel Libeskind and his wife Nina lasted long into the evening. Libeskind was shown the project of the New Centre of Łódź. ‘This is a radical project. Only projects like this can be successful,’ Libeskind said when shown the ideas behind the Special Culture Zone, Kobro Square and the new underground Łódź Fabryczna station. Before that he gave a lecture entitled Counterpoint, during which he presented the most famous realisations of his designs, he also participated in a discussion panel. 900 people attended the lecture. ‘The Polish stance against dictatorship, Polish identity, Polish freedom have been for me very close and very often I did not describe myself as an American or Israeli but as a Polish architect,’ Libeskind said. He showed the students and designers gathered at Łódź Art Center his famous works, e.g.: Jewish Museum in Berlin, deconstructivist skyscrapers, Freedom Tower – designed to be erected in the place of the World Trade Center in New York, and the Złota 44 office building in Warsaw. During the press conference, Daniel Libeskind often stressed the important role his home town plays in his life. ‘When you are born in a given city, it becomes a part of you,’ he said. ‘I remember everything from when I lived here at Piotrkowska 42. Then, I thought Łódź was so big. It’s a beautiful city; it has an exceptional richness of architectural forms created by different cultures and by people from different times. I believe in Łódź, I believe it will use its potential.’ He also answered questions sent through the internet. He described, for example, to what music some of his realisations can be compared to and how Łódź ‘sounds’ for him. ‘It’s a lonely violin played in the attic, the sound of which is suddenly mixed with wild jazz of a big city.’ During his visit, Libeskind together with Łódź administration a letter of intent for cooperation between him and the City of Łódź.

On 16 November 2009, when summarising the realisation of the 11th priority: ‘Culture and cultural heritage’ of the Operational Program ‘Infrastructure and Environment’, Bogdan Zdrojewski, Minister of Culture and National Heritage, stressed that Special Art Zone in Łódź is the first on the list of reserve projects awaiting for funds from the EU. During his visit to Łódź Film School, Zdrojewski said: ‘The Special Art Zone is a very ambitious project, I hugely support it. This is a European-class project, while the difficulty of its realisation is world-class. If the city will come to me with a finished program, the Special Art Zone will receive the funds as the first project on the reserve list. If we won’t be able to gain funds for it in this round, I’m sure they will come next time.’

On 23 November 2009, Łódź will host David Lynch, a famous American director, cofounder of the World Art Foundation and huge fan of Łódź who for many years have been saying that he wants to open here a film studio. ‘I have been to various places around the world, but I didn’t love any of them the way I love Łódź. I love coming here in the winter, I like those trees without leaves, grey buildings with the grey city in the background,’ said Lynch during a press conference. EC1 Wschód – a 100-year old thermal power plant, which was given by the City to the Foundation – is too filed with art studios, exhibition spaces, restaurants, guest rooms, sound studios, mixing and sound editing studios. David Lynch: ‘This should be a place everyone should have access to, also to sell their art there.’ Włodzimierz Tomaszewski, Vice-President of Łódź, declared that the building will be finished in two years from start to finish and the tender procedure will be concluded at the beginning of 2010.

On 1 December 2009, PKP S.A. signed a contract with Skanska S.A., which offered winning tender for the redevelopment and modernisation of the building of the Łódź Widzew railway station. In June 2010, the station will be able to take on the role of the most important train station in Łódź, allowing the Łódź Fabryczna station to be closed and enabling the start of the huge excavation near the New Centre of Łódź. The contract includes the redevelopment of the train station building, a construction of a new West wing and a modernisation of two service buildings. Roads and Transportation Authority in Łódź has assigned financial resources for the construction of two parking lots for ca. 400 vehicles, a bus terminus and a taxi stand.

On 2 December 2009, Frank Gehry, a famous American architect, during the Camerimage festival, presented a preliminary conceptualisation of the building of Camerimage Łódź Center – a conference and festival centre which will be located in the New Centre of Łódź. Gehry does not hide his emotions when visiting the city where his grandparents used to live. ‘Today, I went the Poznański’s Palace. It’s not the building that has made such an impression on me but the fact that when my grandfather lived in Łódź he must have heard about this man. I got so emotional that I cried,’ he confessed. He also talked about his family: ‘My grandfather was a coal deliveryman. My mother was born in Łódź, together they migrated to Canada in 1913. A part of my family stayed in Łódź, a decision for which they were branded with number tattoos on their forearms.’ Gehry stressed that the presented version is not a final one. He presented a visualisation of the body of the building which is to encompass 37 thousand sq m. It comprises of, among other, two lecture halls: the larger one for 2500 people and the smaller one for 800 people, 4 cinemas and an exhibition space. In front of the building, he designed a square where it would be possible to place the red carpet and to welcome festival guests. The building is also supposed to support outdoor film viewing on rage glass walls. The foyer of Teatr Wielki (Grand Theatre) featured models of Gehry’s building fitted in the New Centre of Łódź.

On 4 December 2009, PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe S.A., Biuro Inwestycji (New Investments Office) issued a call for tenders for a multi-mode station which will replace the Łódź Fabryczna station. Its platforms will be located 16 meters below ground level. After the conclusion of the contract for modernisation of the Łódź Widzew station, this is another step closer to starting High-Speed Railway in Poland and to starting an operation on an open city. The subject of the contract is the design and construction of an integrated transportation station – Łódź Fabryczna, located in the area of the New Centre of Łódź. The investment includes the construction of buildings and execution of secured deep excavation including soil removal and the removal of the existing buildings and infrastructure. The investment will be located around the following streets: Kilińskiego, Narutowicza, Składowa and Węglowa as well as on the premises of the Łódź Fabryczna station and subordinate areas. The excavated soil and the material from demolishing will be removed via trains to the Łódź Widzew train station, then, carried via a technological railway line constructed by the contractor and/or via HGV transport to the area near Henrykowska and Kosodrzewiny streets.

On 18 December 2009, the Institution of Culture EC1 Łódź – Miasto Kultury issued a call for tenders for feasibility study with the development of applications for financial backing by the EU and a development of tender procedure materials projects for investment realisation in the design/build system, related to the construction of the railway line from the Łódź Fabryczna station towards the Łódź Kaliska station to lines 14 and 25 and line 15. Its main element is a cross-town tunnel with underground stops and a high-speed railway tunnel.

At the end of December 2009, the Institution of Culture "EC1 Łódź – Miasto Kultury" received from the consortium of SYSTRA, AREP Ville and BBF Sp. z o.o. the second stage of the feasibility study of rendering of the terrain of the planned excavation on the premises of the Łódź Fabryczna train station and a material study to the application for financial backing of the New Centre of Łódź by the EU. The first stage of the feasibility study was delivered by the companies on 1 December 2009.

2010

On 6 January 2010, the future of the building designed by Frank Gehry which was supposed to be one of the symbols of the New Centre of Łódź became vague. Marek Żydowicz along with the supporters of the construction of a festival and conference centre Camerimage Łódź Center started an occupational strike inside the main conference hall at City Council Office in Łódź. This was a reaction to three previous meetings of the council, during which the councillors did not decide to assign financial aid in the amount of PLN 250 million for the company responsible for the construction. The councillors conditioned the aid on the declaration made by Minister of Culture to organise a competition in which the project could gain another PLN 250 million. Local politicians from the Civic Platform and Democratic Left Alliance stressed their concern for the city’s financial status. They emphasised that Łódź should not engage in this investment until it will not be certain if Minister of Culture or private investors will finance at least a half of the cost.

On 17 January 2010, the inhabitants of Łódź in referendum decided to dismiss Jerzy Kropiwnicki from the office of the President of Łódź. In order for the referendum to be valid, 19% of the electorate, i.e. around 115 thousand people. 131 thousand people cast their votes. 97% voted for the dismissal of the President.

On 29 January 2010, the responsibilities of the dismissed president Jerzy Kropiwnicki were taken over by Tomasz Sadzyński, a councillor from the Civil Platform and a Secretary of the Łódzkie Voivodship. He will be administrator of the city until local elections scheduled for autumn.

On 25 February 2010, the tender procedure for the feasibility study of the crosstown tunnel which will run underneath the centre of Łódź was concluded. The winning offer was provided by a consortium whose leader is Sener Sp. z o.o. and partners: Sener Ingenieria y Sistemas and PWC Polska.

On 9 March, the contractor for the revitalisation of the EC1 East building was chosen. The winning tender was submitted by a consortium led by PORR (Polska) S.A. The company is very experienced in revitalising post-industrial objects – it was responsible for the redevelopment of Izrael Poznański’s spinning mill into Andel’s Hotel, for the construction of the Textorial Park office building at Księży Młyn, near the old Karol Scheibler’s cotton warehouse, and for the construction of the ‘Stary Browar’ Trade, Art and Business Centre in Poznań. The winning offer amounts to almost PLN 56 million. The investment is scheduled to be finished by the end of September 2012.

On 11 March, The City of Łódź Office witnessed the official signing of the contract with SENER for the feasibility study for the railway cross-town tunnel which will run underneath Łódź. The value of the contract has been estimated at PLN 3.5 million. ‘We are honoured to be able to work on the feasibility study for the tunnel. Now, we must start working hard in order to be successful,’ said Lope Seco González, Management Director of Sener Sp. z o.o. The feasibility study, which is to be completed within 12 months’ time, is to define the precise route of the tunnel which will service high-speed trains, as well as conventional and metro trains.

On 13 March, EC1 Fundacja Łódzka (EC1 Łódź Foundation) organised at Kopisch’s Bleachery (Bielnik Kopischa) a debate entitled ‘Why build new Łódź?’ The discussion on the New Centre of Łódź gathered Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Member of the European Parliament, Sylwester Pawłowski, Member of the Polish Parliament, Elżbieta Hibner, member of the Voivodship Management, Marcin Bugajski, Vice-mayor of Łódź, Paweł Olczyk, Member of the Board of PKP S.A., Alina Giedryś, Member of the Board of PKP PLK, Prof. Krzysztof Stefański, Institute of Art History at the University of Łódź, Krzysztof Apostilidis, entrepreneur, Marek Cieślak, Director of the Łódź Special Economic Zone, Prof. Marek Janiak, Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning at the Technical University of Łódź and Krzysztof Cichoń, Ph.D., Institute of Art History at the University of Łódź. The debate also gathered a large group of listeners, including: representatives of Łódź universities Prof. Włodzimierz Nykiel, Rector of the University of Łódź and Prof. Stanisław Bielecki, Rector of the Technical University of Łódź, Przemysław Andrzejak, M.A., Research and Promotion Representative of the Rector of the Medical University of Łódź, Krzysztof Candrowicz, Director of Łódź Art Center, as well as culture animators, media representatives, students from the ‘Pociąg do Łodzi’ initiative, social activists and others. Andrzej Walczak, Commissioner of the Mayor of Łódź for the Special Art Zone, spoke first in the debate conducted by Jacek Grudzień, a journalist from the Polish Television and the Polish Radio: ‘When in December last year one of national newspapers posed the question [why build new Łódź?], neither the Mayor nor the City Architect reacted whatsoever. When required to do something, we weren’t able to give any answer to this question. Today, we pose the question once more, very seriously, for ourselves and we hope it will induce a debate this time. Because the whole idea of new Łódź is based on meeting and talking. That’s when new ideas are born. We don’t need to speak with one voice. This huge project is an opportunity which may be the only one for the next 150 years. If we are going to do something, first we need to meet and talk or we will waste this opportunity. And one more thing: I would like to encourage you to stop using the name: the New Centre of Łódź. There is only one centre of this city – it’s Piotrkowska Street and its intersection with Piłsudskiego Street, former Główna. To celebrate the fact that this entire project started with the Kobro Square, I suggest the name: Kobro City.’
The debate has left the participants believing that thanks to good transport connection with the rest of the country and Europe, as well as culture, entrepreneurship and new technologies, Łódź may become a true European city. The debate has also triggered off a campaign for having your part in the construction of Kobro City – the EC1 Arttraction Journal website features an original survey through which anyone can add their ‘brick’ to the object of their choice.

17 March saw the conclusion of the tender procedure for the general contractor of the revitalisation of EC1 West – the younger part of the historic complex, which will be adapted into an interactive Centre for Science and Technology. As in the case of EC1 East, the winning offer was placed by the consortium led by PORR (Polska) S.A. The winning offer amounts to PLN 100 million. The contract includes revitalisation of the building of EC1 West, all construction work including development of common-integrating areas. It also includes construction of a new building inside the revitalised complex, a redevelopment of energy infrastructure to avoid any collisions related to the construction work and development of all the area integrating the entire EC1 premises with infrastructure. The investment is scheduled to be finished by the end of September 2012.

On 25 March, architects Charly Möller and Jurgen Onderka with their Polish representative, Janusz Filusch, presented the City with several volumes of documentation which constitute the construction project of the Special Art Zone. Andrzej Falicz, Manager of the Special Art Zone Team said: ‘The project will be soon analysed by the special commission in which I participate together with the representatives of the Bureau for Realization and Supervision of Investments, the Department of Spatial Planning and Monument Protection as well as the Department of Architectonic and Building Administration. We have 14 days to find any shortcomings and ask for corrections. But this is, in fact, the final stretch. I have high hopes that we will receive the final construction project and the construction permit in May. The executive project should be ready by the beginning of next year.’ On the same day, Bogdan Zdrojewski, Minister of Culture and National Heritage, during a meeting with Łukasz Magin, Vice-mayor of Łódź and Andrzej Walczak, Commissioner of the Mayor of Łódź for the Special Art Zone, committed to support the project of the Special Art Zone with the amount of PLN 190 million from the EU funds. A sine qua non condition is to submit the entire documentation including the construction permit by May.

On 12 May, the City Office in Łódź bought back the historical EC1 thermal power plant from the World Art Foundation. In April, Kazimierz Suwała, the chairman of the World Art Foundation, wrote a letter in which he asked the City to finance the furnishing of the World Art Centre. The request concerned the sum exceeding PLN 20 million. The City decided to use its right to buy the facility back, which was guaranteed by the contract with the Foundation. ‘In the opinion of Tomasz Sadzyński, acting city mayor, there is no justification for spending public money on an enterprise which does not belong to the city. Therefore, he exercised the city right to buy the EC1 back on the same financial terms as those on which it had been sold by the city,’ said Wojciech Janczyk, spokesperson for the Mayor of the City of Łódź. As a result, the thermal power plant was returned to the city for the price of less than PLN 4 thousand. Such was the price the foundation paid for the facility back in 2006. The notary deed was signed by Tomasz Sadzyński, the acting mayor of Łódź. The city stressed that it does not cast aside the idea of building an art centre and David Lynch’s film studio in the EC1 in cooperation with the foundation.

On 26 May 2010, the PKP PLK S.A. (Polish Railways) company signed the contract for Lot A, i.e. modernisation of the Warsaw-Łódź line from Warszawa Zachodnia to Skierniewice (Miedniewice) with the consortium created by the following companies: Przedsiębiorstwo Napraw Infrastruktury sp. z o.o., PKP Energetyka S.A. and Pomorskie Przedsiębiorstwo Mechaniczno-Torowe sp. z o.o. The net contract value is PLN 870 million net. The investment project includes elaboration of the design documentation and modernisation of tracks and their substructure, contact lines, bridges and viaducts, platforms in stations and passengers’ stops, non-collision intersections, equipment and structures for environmental protection and train operation systems. In this way, redundant train speed limits will be removed as the trains will be able to reach the speed of 160 km/h in these sections. The investment project completion will make it possible to shorten the time of journey between Warsaw and Łódź by approx. 13 minutes to the total of 65 minutes. The comfort and safety of passengers will also be enhanced, vibrations and noise emission will be limited and the railway environmental impact will be reduced. The straight course of the Warsaw-Łódź railway line in the Warsaw-Skierniewice section also makes its future adjustment to higher speed technically possible. Presently, the Warsaw-Łódź line, particularly the Warsaw-Skierniewice (Miedniewice) section, is the busiest railway line section in Poland, as on average it operates 69 train pairs every day, including 12 pairs of freight trains.

On 27 May, during the International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, Culture, Globalization, and International Relations over the next Two Decades, Łódź presented its ambitious plan to build Kobro City. Current and past presidents, prime ministers, ministers, diplomats, representatives of international institutions, scientists, academics and journalists from all over the world were present at the conference. Łódź was the only Polish city which had its presentation. Łódź was represented by mayor Tomasz Sadzyński, and his plenipotentiary for the Special Art Zone, Andrzej Walczak who talked about the ambitious plans of repeating the process which had made Łódź so successful in the 19th century. However, this time, the driving force behind it will be not industry, but culture. Hence, the city will not build a special economic zone, but a special culture zone based on its greatest heritage – multiculturalism and avant-garde art. Mayor Tomasz Sadzyński talked about the development of cultural Łódź and about how the Kobro District project will allow Łódź to draw a new breath. The key to success lies not only in basing the project on the four cultures which once created the city, but also in aiming for Łódź to become the link between Eastern and Western Europe. Rob Krier, who created the masterplan for the New Centre of Łódź, was the guest of honour. In his short speech, the urban planner from Luxembourg invited everyone to visit Łódź. He pointed out that it is worth visiting because it is a city of young, creative people who want to do something interesting. The speech was received very warmly.

On 31 May, the Special Art Zone obtained a construction permit. On the same day, the project together with all the documentation was sent to the Ministry of Culture. Deputy mayor of Łódź, Łukasz Magin, presented the construction permit signed by Voivode of Łódź Jolanta Chełmińska. ‘We are very grateful to Ms Chełmińska for her commitment and help. Without it, it would have been much harder for us to obtain a construction permit so soon,’ Magin said. It was crucial for the complete documentation with a construction permit to be filed before the end of May, as Bogdan Zdrojewski, Minister of Culture, made this the condition under which grants from the EU would be given. Whether Łódź will get the money will be known by the end of 2010, or beginning of 2011.
Andrzej Walczak, the Łódź mayor’s plenipotentiary for the Special Art Zone, presented the newest renderings of the building designed by the German Möller Architekten + Ingenieure BDA consortium as well as the basic assumptions of the Special Art Zone programme. The art centre inside a glass tube will be the answer for the industrial complex of Łódź – a city which has been crippled by the 20th century and now aspires to be a true European city. Now, when people divide Europe into two halves, it may be Łódź that will become the link between the East and the West. It is the reason why the name Special Art Zone is planned to be dropped in favour of Europe – Europe. ‘Thanks to educational work and exhibitions, we will come closer to the distant plan of making Europe a whole again,’ said Andrzej Walczak during the press conference. The plan to have two works of art on the walls of the Special Art Zone building (a 17-metre op-art work by Ludwig Wilding on the western wall, and a work by Ilya Kabakov on the eastern wall) reflects the idea of joining the East with the West.

On 29 June, representatives of 12 local self-governments of Łódź voivodeship have signed a letter of intent related to cooperation in creation of Łódź Agglomeration Railway (Łódzka Kolej Aglomeracyjna - ŁKA). The investment shall be carried out between 2011 and 2013. ŁKA shall travel on the Łódź circle railway route, as well as from Łódź to Kutno, Koluszki, Łowicz and Zduńska Wola. When the tunnel under Łódź, prepared to service high-speed trains, will be ready, the agglomeration railway will link Łódź Widzew and Łódź Kaliska stations, thus turning Łódź Fabryczna into a fully multimodal railway station, offering connections to all parts of the region, country and Europe. The main task under the ŁKA investment shall be the purchase of new railcars, but the investment also includes modernisation of railway stations, which shall be used as the ŁKA stops. The project implementation costs are EUR 72 million, half of which is provided by the EU. The rest shall be covered by the voivodeship and the railway company. The voivodeship estimates that the investment expenditure shall be returned after 12 years. Self-governments will participate only in maintenance costs of the railway.

On 30 June, the first shovel of earth was lifted at the New Centre of Łódź area. The SKANSKA company has started revitalisation of the EC1 East building. The grand start of the investment was watched by great celebrities: Bogdan Zdrojewski, Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Cezary Grabarczyk, Minister of Infrastructure, Włodzimierz Fisiak, Voivode of Łódź, Jolanta Chełmińska, Łódź Voivodeship Marshal, Tomasz Sadzyński, acting City Mayor, and MPs Iwona Śledzińska-Katarasińska and Andrzej Biernat. By the end of September 2012, the revitalised thermal power plant is to house a unique art centre, which will include, above all, film studios, artistic studios, seminar rooms, 3D cinema and a planetarium.

On 16 July, in the historical Machine Hall of the EC1 thermal power plant, His Excellency Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Nasser A. Albraik, PhD, handed to the EC1 Łódź Foundation the books which Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al Saud contributed to the ‘5 in Lodz’ library. The ambassador came to Łódź in order to personally give the books to the Library, which is being built by the EC1 Łódź Foundation. The guests were delighted with the historical interiors of the thermal power plant and plans of construction of the New Centre of Łódź. The books that were contributed by the prince to the ‘5 in Lodz’ library include Islam holy books – Qur’an and Words of the Prophet, a book by His Royal Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on the Saudi Arabia coming into existence, ‘The Road to Mecca’ by Muhammad Asad and ‘Życie Proroka’ (The Life of the Prophet) by Safey Alrahman Al Mubarkfory.

On 26 July, a contract on revitalisation of the EC1 West facilities and their adaptation for cultural and artistic purposes was signed. The younger part of the historic thermal power plant will house the Centre of Science and Technology, according to the project by Biuro Realizacji Inwestycji ‘Fronton’, cooperating with Mirosław Wiśniewski’s Biuro Urbanistyczno-Architektoniczne and architect Włodzimierz Adamiak. The investment will be carried out by a consortium of the following companies: PORR (Poland) S.A., with its registered seat in Warsaw, POOR Projekt und Hochbau Aktiengesellschaft, with its registered seat in Vienna (Austria), and PORR GmbH, with its registered seat in Vienna (Austria).

In August the ‘5 in Lodz’ library received books from one of the most important world leaders – spiritual and political leader of Tibet, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, His Holiness Dalai Lama. The books along with the letter arrived in Lodz from  Dharamsali, where the emigration government of Tibet is. The EC1 Łódź Foundation enlarged its collection with the books from one of the world’s greatest moral authorities. Participation of such personalities and representative of different cultures show that ‘5 in Lodz’ can become a place teaching respect for the pluralism of life philosophy and openness to different perspectives.

On 27 August, at the invitation of mayor Tomasz Sadzyński, Daniel Libeskind came to Łódź.  Architect arrived from his current home in New York together with his wife Nina and his associate Brian Melcher. The architect then spent the whole day examining the grounds for the future New Centre of Łódź and talking with mayor of Łódź, Tomasz Sadzyński, and marshal of the Łódź voivodeship, Włodzimierz Fisiak. ‘A vision of buildings came to me as soon as I saw this area. It has enormous potential, but we need to wisely join it with the rest of the city,’ Libeskind said. The architect often emphasizes his attachment to Łódź and his faith in the success of the mission to create a new image of the city. ‘For me, Łódź is not yet another place that I visit, but my home. I was born here and I lived here for eleven years. My father was also born here. It is one of the most iconic and memorable cities in Europe and the world. It certainly deserves to once again become the centre of Europe. Of course, in the 21st century we cannot repeat this process basing on the textile industry, in which my father worked. Now, we can make Łódź a beautiful and developing city which will become a bridge between cultures. This is why I am glad that I can take part in this process not only as an architect or urban planner, but also, most importantly, as a person who loves and cares about this city and who feels this place has potential to be something internationally important,’ said Libeskind on a press conference. At the same time, the architect noted that the underground Łódź Fabryczna railway station and the tunnel for high-speed railway have to be built for the New Centre of Łódź to succeed. ‘Let us treat the railway as a seed from which the new Łódź will bloom,’ Daniel Libeskind said.

On 31 August 2010, the Ministry of Regional Development revised the list of individual projects, i.e. the most important investments which in the following years have a good chance of being subsidised by the EU with no need to participate in a call for proposals. Within the “Infrastructure and Environment” programme, the list encompasses projects that are of key importance to the New Centre of Łódź. The modernisation of the Warsaw-Łódź connection, which is now being prepared by PKP PLK S.A. and the underground Łódź Fabryczna station, which is going to cost almost PLN 1.9 billion, may get a financing of over PLN 1.2 billion. PLK also stands a chance of obtaining a subsidy of PLN 247 billion for the 291-billion project which involves analytical and preparatory works related to the high-speed railway to connect Warsaw, Łódź, Poznań and Wrocław. Submitted by the city of Łódź, the project of creating a multi-modal transport hub was included in the basic list of Measure 7.3 “Urban transport in metropolitan areas”. Łódź may get a subsidy of as much as PLN 230 million for the investment whose total cost will amount to almost PLN 600 million. The intermodal hub is going to include, among other things, a tram route along the northern facade of the station, a redeveloped tram route in Kilińskiego Street, urban and regional transport bus stops as well as car parks and a system of exits and roads leading to the station – all of this on three underground levels. This could turn the station into a public transport transfer hub for the entire Łódź urban agglomeration. The list also includes the first stage of creating the system of Łódź Urban Agglomeration Railway (ŁKA). The project which will cost Łódź Voivodeship will have to spend PLN 344 million may get a subsidy of million 145. Within the investment, 18 rail buses will be purchased to make it faster and more comfortable for the inhabitants of the voivodeship to reach the city centre. Twelve self-government bodies of Łódź voivodeship are going to be involved in the project: Głowno, Kutno, Pabianice, Ozorków, Stryków, Łowicz, Zduńska Wola, Łęczyca, Zgierz, Łask and Koluszki.

On 10 September 2010, the people of Łódź had an opportunity to visit the western part of the EC1 power plant for the last time before the beginning of the great revitalisation project. As an element of a special ‘science picnic’, participants could take part in a trip around EC1 West, visit the Fairy Tale Museum as well as participate in a number of experiments and workshops conducted by the Se-ma-for Foundation and related to puppet and cartoon animation. The event’s final piece was a musical performance by Pigułka. A few days after EC1 West was officially closed for visitors, workers entered the site to start implementing the project by Biuro Realizacji Inwestycji “Fronton” (‘Fronton’ Investment Office) operating in cooperation with Biuro Urbanistyczno-Architektoniczne Miłosława Wiśniewskiego (Miłosław Wiśniewski’s Urban and Architectural Office) and architect Włodzimierz Adamiak. By the end of September 2012, the Centre of Science and Technology will be created in this monumental building. The space will be taken by experimental rooms and interactive exhibitions devoted to problems from different branches of science. The investment is carried out by a consortium comprising: PORR S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw (Poland), POOR Projekt und Hochbau Aktiengesellschaft with its registered office in Vienna (Austria) and PORR GmbH with its registered office in Vienna (Austria). The total cost of the investment will be PLN 100 million gross (net PLN 81 million).

On 16 September 2010 in the office of PKP PLK an agreement was signed with a consortium of companies, Ingenieria IDOM Internacional S.A. and Biuro Projektów Komunikacyjnych w Poznaniu sp. z o.o. (Studio of Transportation Projects in Poznań), for the feasibility study of the high-speed rail route. The first document to be prepared is a study of the ‘Y’ route which is to connect Warsaw, Łódź, Poznań and Wrocław. Trains should start running there in 2020 at the latest. The value of the agreement is almost PLN 49 million. The idea behind the study is to provide solutions and ideas necessary to start building high-speed rail in Poland. The first stage, involves preparation of necessary analyses and selection of the most favourable route, is going to last 13 months. The second stage, to finish after 27 months, is meant to elaborate the route variant selected in the first stage and to prepare reports, applications, documentation and specifications what is going to be ordered from the entities responsible for implementation of the study. The feasibility study and other preparatory activities related to the construction of high-speed rail are financed under the “Infrastructure and Environment” Operational Programme.

On 27 September 2010, in the office of the Ministry of Regional Development, mayor Tomasz Sadzyński signed the pre-agreement for construction of the transport node around the Łódź Fabryczna station. The project is included in the basic list of Measure 7.3 “Urban transport in metropolitan areas” of the “Infrastructure and Environment” Operational Programme. Łódź was guaranteed a EU subsidy of PLN 230 million for the investment worth PLN 600 million with no need to take part in a call for proposals. Subsidies can be awarded only to projects that are entirely certain to use and account for the EU funds with no delays. Under the pre-agreement, the applicant is obliged to carry out preparatory works so that the implementation of the investment can be started within a particular time limit.

Also on 27 September 2010, the Regional Director of Environmental Protection in Łódź passed a decision which determines environmental factors important for the project of building the underground multimodal Łódź Fabryczna station. This was the end of the procedure whose objective was to assess the investment’s environmental impact. A decision on environmental determinants of permission to implement an undertaking must be obtained for any undertaking that could significantly affect the environment. Thanks to the Director of Environmental Protection, the Łódź investment will be able to obtain a building permit.

On 12 and 13 October 2010, Łódź’s fate in the European Capital of Culture 2016 competition was decided. Candidates were interviewed by an international panel of experts in Teatr Wielki – the Polish National Opera in Warsaw, starting on 12 October. Łódź was the last to present itself on the first day – after Białystok, Bydgoszcz, Gdańsk, Katowice and Lublin. Poznań, Szczecin, Toruń, Warszawa and Wrocław were scheduled for 13 October. The short list comprised: Gdańsk, Katowice, Lublin, Warszawa and Wrocław. Łódź, Białystok, Bydgoszcz, Poznań, Szczecin and Toruń dropped out of the competition.

On 18 October 2010, PKP PLK signed two agreements that will enable efficient modernisation of the Łódź-Warsaw railway line. First, the company obtained a legal guarantee for the EU funding of Lot A, i.e. the Warszawa Zachodnia-Miedniewice (Skierniewice) section, by signing with the Centre for EU Transport Projects a subsidy agreement under the ‘Infrastructure and Environment’ 2007-2013 Operational Programme. The value of the agreement is PLN 1.8 billion, and the subsidy will amount to more than PLN 1.5 billion. The agreement to modernise the 58-kilometre section was signed by the railwaymen already on 26 May with a consortium of companies: Przedsiębiorstwo Napraw Infrastruktury sp. z o.o., PKP Energetyka S.A. and Pomorskie Przedsiębiorstwo Mechaniczno-Torowe sp. z o.o.

Also on 18 October, PLK signed an agreement on supervision and management of Lot A and Lot C. The contract, whose net value amounts to PLN 7.5 million, will be executed by SAFEGE S.A. The company’s services will include supervising the investment as well as managing and coordinating the execution of agreements that will be concluded with contractors. It will also require cooperation with the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways as well as other road administrators since the project assumes construction of a viaduct in Rogów.

On 23 October 2010, the modernised Łódź Widzew station was opened. The small building and its surroundings had to undergo a metamorphosis because it is there that Warsaw-Łódź trains will stop for a few years. To increase the station’s capacity, a new wing was added to the building. Thanks to it, five ticket windows, a waiting lounge, a newsagent’s, an eating place, toilets meeting the needs of the disabled and a Tourist Information Centre. To make travelling more comfortable, more seats were added and there is wireless Internet access. The surrounding area was altered, too. The roads leading to the station – Augustów and Służbowa Streets – were redeveloped and two car parks were created in front of the entrance: their capacity is 150 and ca. 200 cars. At the same time, the City made sure that the very station door can be accessed using public transport. The total cost of the investment is ca. PLN 6 million.
On the opening day, the station was visited by the Minister of Infrastructure Cezary Grabarczyk, the Marshal of Łódź Voivodeship Włodzimierz Fisiak, Vice-mayors of Łódź Łukasz Magin and Marcin Bugajski, MP Hanna Zdanowska as well as representatives of railway companies: president of PKP PLK S.A. Zbigniew Szafrański and vice-president of PKP S.A. Jacek Prześluga. Minister Grabarczyk was glad that another station got prettier: Travellers start their railway visit at the station. Therefore, as Mr. Grabarczyk remarked, it is important that the station is cosy and easy to access, which will encourage people to travel with Polish State Railways and not discourage them, which used to be the case.

On 2 November 2010 a letter of intent was signed in Łódź, concerning the coordination of Poland’s high-speed rail projects, as the high-speed route will run through Łódź. The letter was signed by representatives of bodies involved in the high-speed rail construction project: Consorcium Ingenieria IDOM Internacional and Biuro Projektów Komunikacyjnych w Poznaniu, Sener Sp. z o. o., Department of Infrastructure of the Marshal’s Office in Łódź, The City of Łódź Office, the ‘EC1 Łódź Miasto Kultury’ Institution of Culture (‘EC1 Łódź the City of Culture’) as well as PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe S.A. The cooperation is meant to involve coordination of works within two feasibility studies, which will make it easier to select optimum solutions and accelerate the progress of works. This results from the fact that the entire Łódź study will be fully taken into consideration in the feasibility study of the high-speed rail. For that purpose, a Steering Committee was appointed, including the representatives of the city and the region, PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe S.A. and authors of the feasibility studies.

On 4 November 2010, the list of five consortia invited to submit tenders for the construction of the underground part of the Łódź Fabryczna station was announced. The contract involves, among other things, preparing project documentation, building a tunnel for long-distance, regional, urban agglomeration and high-speed transport, as well as building the Łódź Fabryczna station and station facilities as an underground station for four platforms and eight tracks. The building works should start no later than in September 2011.

During a special press conference in the Andel’s Hotel, the representatives of PKP PLK S.A., PKP S.A., the City and the Voivodeship Self-government shared their plans to make Łódź the transport centre of the region and the country. ‘I came to Łódź on time thanks to the railway. With the modernised route, the Warsaw-Łódź trip takes 90 minutes. Can it be any faster?,’ asked the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Cezary Grabarczyk. Our answer is: yes. Already in 2012, as a result of further modernisation, the trip will take 65 minutes. Can it be even faster? Our answer is: yes. When the New City Centre of Łódź and the underground Łódź Fabryczna station are built together with Poland’s first high-speed rail, the trip will take 30 minutes. The construction of the underground station, which is to begin shortly, will make high-speed rail possible. Railway is the best way!
Andrzej Wach, President of the PKP S.A. Board added: ‘This is a chance for the Railway, for Łódź and for Poland. Building the underground station means building the first section of the high-speed line. At that point, there will be no coming back.’

On 2 December 2010 the hall of the northern boiler in the modernist part of EC1 East at Targowa street disappeared from the surface of the Earth. It used to function as the most distinctive space of that historic complex – a source of inspiration for photographers, filmmakers, musicians – and for the past few years a symbol of the New Centre of Łódź construction. This was the place David Lynch fell for, the place visited by the biggest names in the world of art, culture and politics, among others architects Rob Krier, Daniel Libeskind and Frank Gehry.

2011

On 3 February 2011, the companies and consortia that wish to sign the contract for completing the Łódź Widzew redevelopment were announced. The general contractor will be required to prepare project documentation and perform building and rebuilding works of railway infrastructure, among others regarding the track surface and roadbed, traction system, power engineering, engineering facilities, platforms, passes and railway crossings. What is more, a new train stop – Łódź Niciarniana – is envisaged together with a grade-separated intersection of a railway line and Niciarniana street as well as a Local Control Centre at the Łódź Widzew station. Nine consortia submitted their bids for carrying out the task. PKP PLK intends to allocate PLN 344 million gross for the investment.

In February 2011 Łódź was visited by Carla Swickerath, head of Daniel Libeskind’s studio. She met with the architect of the city and city clerks responsible for spatial development, who prepared guidelines for the architect concidering the central part of the New Centre of Łódź, encompassing Kobro Market Square, Special Cultural Zone and City Gate.

March 2011 marks the commencement of the second stage in the renovation of the railway track linking Łódź and Warsaw, i.e. Lot A – modernisation of the 58-kilometre Warszawa Zachodnia – Skierniewice (Miedniewice) section. The contractor is a consortium comprising Przedsiębiorstwo Napraw Infrastruktury sp. z o.o., PKP Energetyka S.A. and Pomorskie Przedsiębiorstwo Mechaniczno-Torowe sp. z o.o. The contract amounts to  870 m. PLN net. As the redevelopment will be hindering transportation on the route for 18 months, the number of trains running between Łódź and Warsaw has been reduced.

Between 8th and 11th of March 2011 the MIPIM international real estate trade fair take place in Cannes. Łódź promotes the New Centre of Łódź construction project among foreign investors. Łódź is shown as a city which already in the 19th century became a special economic zone and a true “promised land” for factory owners from all over Europe. In the 21st century, drawing on its great industrial tradition and valuable cultural heritage, Łódź aspires to repeat that process and change into the Special Culture Zone. The success will be ensured through the implementation of the New Centre of Łódź project which envisages transforming 90 hectares in the very centre of the city into a modern quarter. The city’s promotional activities were supported by Daniel Libeskind, one of the world’s most renowned architects who himself was born in Łódź. He did not visit Cannes personally but he agreed to design a part of Łódź’s exhibition stand which symbolised the city’s future. The visualisation is signed – “ŁÓDŹ: MOJE MIASTO! – Daniel Libeskind” [ŁÓDŹ: MY CITY! – Daniel Libeskind].

On 28 March 2011, the City, PKP PLK SA and PKP SA signed a cooperation agreement pertaining to the redevelopment project for the Łódź Fabryczna station and the construction of the tunnel under Łódź where high-speed rail will run. The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Infrastructure – Cezary Grabarczyk – as well as Łódź MPs, city councillors and representatives of the voivodeship self-government. The document was signed in the Hall of Mirrors at Izrael Poznański’s palace by: Mayor of Łódź Hanna Zdanowska, Zbigniew Szafrański – president of PKP PLK S.A., Board member of PKP PLK S.A. – Alina Giedryś and Board members of PKP S.A. – Jacek Prześluga and Paweł Olczyk. Minister Grabarczyk, one of the attendees, emphasised that he truly hopes that the agreement with the redevelopment contractor will have been signed in two months’ time. If no unexpected problems occur, envelopes with tenders will be opened at the beginning of April. As the financing is distributed among three subjects, the agreement specifies how the project is to be managed. ‘We would like to open the station in December 2014, and by the end of 2015 we will need to have the project accounted for, because the current EU financial perspective will last until 2013, and then we have two years to account for the investment,’ the minister says. ‘We are already dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. The high-speed rail, whose first stage is the construction of the Łódź Fabryczna station, will bring profits to more than just one city. This is a national matter. Łódź will soon have railway connections with all the cities of the European Union.’

On 8 April 2011 the tenders in the procedure for the contractor that will rebuild the Łódź Fabryczna station were opened. The cheapest offer has been introduced by the consortium of Przedsiębiorstwo Robót Inżynieryjnych POL-AQUA from Piaseczno and Spanish company Dragados, which has undertaken to build the station for PLN 1.5 billion gross.  PLN 2.463 billion was assigned for the investment. 
However serious problems with the investment started on the 13th of April. The key delaying factor was the decision of a court to exclude Pol-Aqual and Dragos consortia from the tender after the motion submitted by the Warbud company, which was excluded at an earlier stage. PKP PLK has been consulting lawyers and developing possible scenarios of action. One of such scenarios involved preparation of a new tender. At the same time, the reconstruction deadline got endangered – financed from the EU resources, the investment has to be closed by the end of 2014.

24 May the name of the contractor who will rebuild the station was revealed. The winner is a consortium of the following companies: Torpol (Poznań), Astaldi (Rome), Przedsiębiorstwo Usług Technicznych INTERCOR (Zawiercie) and Przedsiębiorstwo Budowy Dróg i Mostów (Mińsk Mazowiecki). The net price of the project has been set to PLN 1.43 billion (PLN 1.76 billion gross). The Italians from Astaldi have already taken part in building fast railway between Rome and Naples, as well as underground in Rome, Genoa, Caracas and Copenhagen.The three losing consortiums (excluded Pol-Aqua, Hydrobudowa and Budimex) filed a protest against the decision of the tender committee, which was dismissed by PKP PLK. In the next stage only the Pol-Aqua consortium fights for invalidation of the tender. The hearing before the National Appeal Chamber [KIO] is held in Warsaw on 5 July and it is settled on 11 July. KIO dismisses the protest of the excluded consortium. The lawful winner of the tender is the Torpol-Astaldi consortium. Tender documents are submitted to the President of the Public Procurement Office, who has 30 days to approve them so that it is possible to sign an agreement with the contractor and to start the investment.

28 July 2011 the Mayor of Łódź, Hanna Zdanowska, met with Daniel Libeskind in Milan. She was accompanied by the president of the EC1 Lodz Foundation, Andrzej Walczak, and the city plenipotentiary for the New Centre of Łódź, Błażej Moder. It is another step towards achieving the goal of implementing the vision of the famous architect in the area of the New Centre of Łódź.

On 29 July 2011 during the celebration to commemorate the 588th anniversary of the establishment of the city of Łódź, Andrzej Walczak presented the first, initial visualizations prepared for the New Centre of Łódź by Daniel Libeskind. – We have been talking about the New Centre of Łódź already for five years. Daniel Libeskind, like Rob Krier earlier, legitimises our city. During the meeting with him we spoke mainly about money – about how to create an undertaking which would be attractive in terms of finance and investment, and which would earn a profit for Łódź. This idea is focused on young people, on hope, on success, and on money – said president Walczak. The architect’s work on the concept was financed in full by the EC1 Łódź Foundation. Libeskind promises to visit his home city again in September to present further details and to take part in the official closing of the station of Łódź Fabryczna, which will be renovated to form the beginning of the New Centre of Łódź. – We need to create a zone of energy, a magnetic field that will completely change the face of Łódź, to emphasise that it isn’t any more a 19th-century city. This place will be alive 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With the right strategy we will convince people that it is worth investing here. We will convince people globally, not only local politicians. There really is money in the world. We just need something spectacular to invest in. Nobody is going to invest money in a boring 19th-century textile city – says Libeskind.

18 August 2011, at 2 p.m., a contract to build a new underground station was concluded on the platforms of the Łódź Fabryczna station. Unfortunately, the driving spirit of the project, Minister of Infrastructure Cezary Grabarczyk, didn’t make it to the ceremony. A tense situation caused by the strike of the Przewozy Regionalne railway company made him stay in Warsaw. At the ceremony, he was generously praised and his huge contribution in bringing the investment to implementation stage was emphasized. ‘If it was not for him, this investment would have no chance of realization,’ the mayor of Łódź, Hanna Zdanowska, said. ‘This is the date that marks the beginning of a new “promised land”, a new life for this city. We have made it!” she added happily.
Zbigniew Szafrański, the president of PKP PLK reminded that the beginnings of this project date back to 2005, when some serious talk about building a high-speed rail line linking Warsaw with Poznań and Wrocław began. ‘After the first stage of the renovation of the line between Warsaw and Łódź, we had to think how to carry out the second stage so that it would still be possible to connect Łódź to the high speed line. If we had simply repaired the existing railway station building, high-speed trains would never run through Łódź. Today, we are beginning the construction of an element which is very important not only for Łódź, but also for the rail transport in Poland in general.’
The contract was signed by: mayor of Łódź Hanna Zdanowska, chairman Zbigniew Szafrański, chairman Alina Giedryś - member of the board of PKP PLK SA, Pawel Olczyk and Romuald Bosakowski – members of the Board of PKP SA, treasurer of Łódź Krzysztof Mączkowski and Tomasz Skweklej – member of the board of the Torpol company which is the contractor. Having signed the contract, he said, ‘I would like to make two declarations. The first one is that we will make in on time, and that at the end of 2014 we will meet in the same place which will have become a totally new railway station by then. Secondly, that we will try to be as little disruptive and as little disturbing to the inhabitants of Łódź as possible.’

Also on 18 August, we found out who won the tender procedure for the first stage of Łódź Agglomeration Railway (“Construction, reconstruction of the train stops along the Łódź Agglomeration Railway route – improvement  of accessibility by the creation of intermodal stops with Łódź Agglomeration Railway – stage I”). The winning tender was submitted by a consortium created by: Appia Tomasz Kazalski company from Piaseczno, Przedsiębiorstwo Budownictwa Inżynieryjnego i Kolejowego Sp. z o.o. from Zielonka and Mostostal Infrastruktura from Warsaw. The company offered a net price of PLN 39.3 million (PLN 48.4 million pre-tax). The contractor will have 20 months for all the works (since the day of the signing of the contract).

3 October we found out what would be the probable layout of “Y” line. In September, there was  unofficial information that the European Commission recognised the project of construction of the first Polish High-Speed Railway line as a priority undertaking in respect of the EU transportation system. Brussels listed it as a key project for the community, and included it in a trans-European transportation network.

The IDOM consortium, working on a feasibility study of the high-speed railway line, presented three variants of the route, prepared on the basis of such factors as environmental and infrastructural conditions, as well as the results of social consultations. On 3 October, the Management Board of PKP PLK chose the layout of the “Y” line which will be recommended to the intra-ministry team, including representatives of the ministries of infrastructure, regional development, finance, environment, as well as representatives of those voivodeships through which the line will run. It will be them that will make the final decision as to the final route. Railway representatives approved of the first variant, in which the line runs as follows: the Warsaw – Łódź part beginning in the vicinity of the Warszawa Zachodnia station, running through the area belonging to the railway companies, then in an open tunnel for about 6.5 km, towards the S8 expressway, in the direction of Ożarów Mazowiecki. Next, it will leave the A-2 motorway and pass Skierniewice from the northern side, where it will link with the Central Rail Line. In the vicinity of Stryków, it will turn south-west in the direction of Łódź. At the Łódź Widzew railway station, it will go underground and reach the underground Łódź Fabryczna station. The tunnel will lead the line out of Łódź – trains will emerge from the tunnel past the Łódź Kaliska railway station. The line will then go in the direction of Sieradz, passing mainly though green fields and forests. Having left Sieradz, the line will divide to the west of the Nowe Skalmierzyce railway station, heading for Poznań in the vicinity of Pleszew, Jarocin, Środa Wielkopolska, only to enter the city from the south-east. The other part of the line will start at the divide in the vicinity of Nowe Skalmierzyce and head for Ostrzeszów, Oleśnica, Laskowice, Święta Katarzyna, finally entering Wrocław from the south. This version of the “Y” line will be over 469 km long. The complete feasibility study of the investment will be ready in 14 months.

On 13 October, three days before closing of the old Łódź Fabryczna railway station and the beginning of the most important investment in modern history of Łódź, thanks to artist Marcin Polak and Atlas Sztuki art gallery – organisers of “Railway station opera in two acts” –old walls of the station filled with a spirit of artistic freedom. The concept of the opera goodbye (by the way, born during a train trip) came from Marcin Polak, a graduate of photography at the Polish National Film, Television and Theatre School in Łódź. Over the last years, he has been engaged in such projects as Lipowa Anew (LipowaOdNowa), Point for Łódź (Punkt dla Łodzi), Have Your Place (Miej Miejsce) and Let’s Save the Murals of Łódź (Ratujmy Łódzkie Murale). The goal of the “Railway station opera” was not only to interfere in an intelligent way  in the public audio zone, but also simply to make those who visited the station in its last days before reconstruction smile. At the same time, it was the first action in the city space branded by Atlas Sztuki, which in this case was partnered by “Przewozy Regionalne” Spółka z o.o. The project involved two opera singers whose task was to provide vocal interpretation of passenger information. The first act of the “Railway station opera” took place between 7:15 am and 9:15 am, involving soprano singer Dorota Wójcik of the Grand Theatre in Łódź. “At 7 am I had to have the same adrenaline level as I usually have at 7 pm, just before a concert. I realise not everyone likes opera, but I wanted to show some emotions and I hope someone will like it,” the artist said. The second act, between 3:15 pm and 5:15 pm, involved a baritone singer, Przemysław Rezner, also a soloist at the Grand Theatre. Apart from information for passengers, each singer played little jokes, for instance  quoted railway-related poems or songs (e.g. “Locomotive” by Julian Tuwim, “Jedzie pociąg z daleka”). The morning performance was a huge surprise to many passengers, whereas the afternoon show attracted dozens of people who knew perfectly well how passenger information is going to be presented. What is more, the number of people taking photos of the building and platforms of the Łódź Fabryczna railway station was also a big surprise. The last days of the old station evoked the atmosphere of creativity and artistic freedom in this neglected, and yet so familiar, place.

Saturday,October 15, was the last day of the functioning of the old Łódź Fabryczna station. At 10:40 pm, several hundred people boarded the last train leaving Łódź Fabryczna. They included the Minister of Infrastructure, Cezary Grabarczyk, and PKP PLK CEO, Zbigniew Szafrański, both of whom are crucial to the project. A crowd of passengers got off the train at the Łódź Widzew railway station, only to board the train from Warsaw at 11:12 pm – the last train to arrive at Łódź Fabryczna. The atmosphere was that of joy and festivity.

On Sunday, October 16, several hundred people came to the station in order to listen to concerts of Łódź musicians, organised as a bottom-up initiative, including Sweet&Hot Jazzband, Sjón, consFEARacy, Marcelo Zammenhoff, Rambo Jet, Blisko Pola and Marynarze Łodzi. In the main station hall, there was a show of audiovisual art. Sunny weather attracted numerous people who used this last opportunity to walk along the tracks and platforms of the station.

On October 19th, the European Commission accepts the proposal for a regulation on the strategic transport corridors in Europe. The list includes the plans for the first Polish High Speed Rail – the “Y” line. Due to the long-term predictions of the increase in European traffic and the simulation of economic development, the European Commission wants the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) to be completed by 2030, and by 2050 to create the possibilities for every European to reach it within half an hour. One of the priorities is the improvement of railway connections between the largest Polish cities, that is, the construction of the “Y” line.

On November 8th, at the end of the government term, outgoing minister of infrastructure Cezary Grabarczyk leaves his office. During his four years in office, he emerged as a true benefactor of Łódź, without whom the ambitious plans would have no chance of succeeding. It is thanks to him that the construction of Łódź Fabryczna station finally began, that the development of a feasibility study for the High-Speed Rail (including a route of the “Y” line passing through Łódź) is being conducted, and also that in 2012, the A1 and A2 motorways will cross in Stryków near Łódź, the S14 expressway will be commissioned, and the S8 willl reach Łódź in 2014.

On November 22nd, the concept of a New Centre of Łódź from 2007 becomes significantly downsized by Łódź President Hanna Zdanowska, who informs that she will put forward a proposition to the City Council to remove the Special Art Zone from the city’s Multiannual Financial Forecast.“The investment will not be realised in the near future due to the lack of financial resources; this includes both EU funding and the support we were to receive from the Marshal of the Voivodeship. Moreover, we have entered a dispute with the German company Moeller Architekten + Ingenieure concerning the project copyrights. We do not know when we will have full rights to the implementation of the project”, said the president during the press conference. She also informed: “I have also commissioned an operating, financial and legal audit for the implementation of the entire Łódź City Centre in the years 2007-2011. The tender is underway, the bids for the audit contractor will be opened on November 28th. I have also commissioned a complex economic analysis for the entire 90-hectare area of the New Łódź City Centre, which should answer the question about the market demand for cultural, commercial and housing services in the Centre’s area”, announced Zdanowska. Local Zoning Plans are being developed in order to prevent chaos in the urban development of the new area and to make the site more attractive to investors. The Architect of the City, Marek Janiak, announced that the plans for the majority of the Łódź city centre will be ready by 2014. The completion of the festival and congress centre, developed by the city-owned company Camerimage City Center, is also postponed.  However, the city does not abandon the concept of building the centre. Łódź Vice-president Marek Cieślak announces that he will put forward a proposition to liquidate the company and that he considers preparing an architectural contest and a feasibility study for the centre to be able to apply for EU funding without restrictions.

On December 6th and 13th, designers from the SENER company organise community consultations regarding the routing of the tunnels for HSR and conventional railway underneath Łódź. This is a part of the feasibility study for the construction of the “Y” line. SENER will present only one investment variant to the commissioning institutions. In this variant, the HSR will run westward from the Łódź Fabryczna station and will come out to the surface behind the Retkinia housing complex. A proposal was raised to lay the conventional railway and agglomeration railway and in the north-western direction, underneath Manufaktura and the Stare Polesie and Koziny districts. The tracks would be connected to the Kalisz line between the Łódź Kaliska and Żabieniec stations, with a total tunnel length of 8 kilometres. The meeting was dominated by the issue of the station at the crossing of Zielona and Zachodnia streets, which had been planned by the city and written down in the guidelines for the contractor, but did not make its way into the feasibility study. Instead, SENER proposes an intermediate station at Ogrodowa street, at the back of the Manufaktura commercial and entertainment centre, completely isolated from the city’s communication system. This generates heated protests from the inhabitants of Łódź, who demand a central agglomeration station.

On December 7th, Minister of transport Sławomir Nowak informs that after the completion of the feasibility study the government will suspend all HRS-related work until 2030. The investment, estimated at 26 billion PLN, became another victim of anti-crisis cuts. The minister declares that the government will now focus on the modernisation of conventional railways, which “require saving”, while the realisation of “expensive dreams”, as he labelled the HRS project, will have to wait. Meanwhile, the government continues the modernisation of the Central Railway Main Line from the Silesian Conurbation to Gdańsk. After renovation, the trains will be able to travel at speeds exceeding to 200 km/h. The ministry describes this investment as an evolutionary road to HSR. The Łódź Magistrate’s reaction comes a week later.  A joint appeal to change the date of the HSR project is made by the presidents of the cities which will be connected by the “Y” line:  Łódź – Hanna Zdanowska, Poznań – Ryszard Grobelny and Wrocław – Rafał Dutkiewicz. “This project is not some investment on a whim, but an opportunity to draw Warsaw and the biggest cities in Poland closer to the European hubs of business and culture. Due to its importance and the fact that it was included on the list of priority tasks by the European Commission, the project should be realised according the previous plans, until 2020. The position of the Polish cities interested in the development of High Speed Rail is that an extensive debate should be organised with the participation of experts from the railway industry”, the Łódź City Council wrote in their statement.  The coalition of Łódź, Poznań and Wrocław plans further actions, such as a billboard campaign in Warsaw showing Sławomir Nowak in a farm cart and depicting him as a person who is stalling the development of the country. The last instance will involve an appeal to Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Internet users also protest against the abandoning of HSR.

On December 19th, the characteristic neon sign “Łódź Fabryczna”, which welcomed passengers since 1974, is taken down from the roof over the platforms of the old station on the side of Kilińskiego street. The sign, which has faded in recent years an showed only the letters “ód” “czna” at the time of dismantling, will undergo repairs and maintenance.  It is possible that it will return at the new site after the opening of the underground station. The tracks, railway traction and storage buildings are also being dismantled. Detailed geotechnical studies are performed to determine the construction technology to be used. The deepest boreholes go as low as 60 metres below the surface.

On December 27th, the court gives a verdict on the dispute between the City of Łódź and the World Art Foundation.  According to the ruling of the court, the Foundation must hand the EC1 Power plant to the city for the symbolic amount of money it paid for the rights to the building in 2006.

2012


9 January The Office of the Marshall of the Łódź Voivodeship organised a meeting for the representatives of entities which are interested in the joint project of constructing the tunnel under the city centre for the conventional (long-distance and agglomeration) railways, i.e. Witold Stępnień, the Marshal of the Łódź Voivodeship, Hanna Zdanowska, the Mayor of Łódź, and Zbigniew Szafrański, the President of the PKP PLK SA Management Board. They were also accompanied by Cezary Grabarczyk, the Minister of Infrastructure. They informed that they would do their utmost to make the commencement of works possible as soon as in 2013.

27 February Bogdan Zdrojewski, the Minister of Culture, visited Łódź to express his support for the idea of creating the National Film Culture Centre in the historical EC1 thermal-electric plant presented by Hanna Zdanowska, the Mayor of Łódź and Witold Stępnień, the Marshal of the Łódź Voivodeship. The Centre is to be jointly established by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the City of Łódź and the Voivodeship. The City promises to allocate PLN 40 million for this project and the Marshal Office will provide PLN 5 million. The positive overtone of the news is slightly tarnished by the unclear declarations of the Minister regarding the role of the Centre. This event overlaps with the announcement regarding the creation of the Polish Cinematography Centre in Warsaw on the basis of the Documentary and Feature Film Production Company, i.e. the national institution which, according to Mr Zdrojewski, is to be an equivalent of the Copernicus Science Centre devoted to film. The Łódź Centre is supposed to fulfil a complementary role in relation to the above-mentioned unit, which, in practice, may result its lesser significance and regional, not national, character. The Minister highlighted the fact that Łódź is still a key location for the Polish cinematography but he also mentioned that the National Film Culture Centre is to be an alternative project formatted in a manner different from the Polish Cinematography Centre.  The Łódź Centre is to merge exhibition, training and scientific functions basing on the most important factors for Polish and Łódź cinematography, i.e.: the traditions of the Feature Film Studio, Film School, the Se-Ma-For Studio or the collections of the Museum of Cinematography.

1 March Radosław Stępień, the former Deputy Minister of Transport and close collaborator to Cezary Grabarczyk, became the Deputy Mayor of Łódź thus replacing Arkadiusz Banaszek. He also took over several duties Marek Cieślak (Deputy Mayor responsible for the New Centre of Łódź) had been in charge of.

8 March the Stage I of the Łódź Agglomeration Railway project was officially inaugurated. Residents of all largest towns in the Łódź Voivodeship, i.e. Głowno, Koluszki, Kutno, Łask, Łęczyca, Łowicz, Ozorków, Pabianice, Stryków, Zduńska Wola and Zgierz, will benefit from this project implementation. Łódź will particularly benefit from this project as it will become a genuine capital city of the region and will be provided with an efficient transport system competitive in relation to the vehicular transport. Witold Stępień, the Marshal of the Voivodeship, said that intensive activities regarding the project cofounding application are in progress and the construction works will be divided into two stages. Until 2015, the tunnel is to be constructed. Next, the “Centrum” station (under the Zielona and Zachodnia Streets junction) and “Manufaktura” station (at Ogrodowa Street) are to be constructed, however, the latter will have to be financed by the shopping centre.

All March the demolition works regarding the infrastructure surrounding the old Łódź Fabryczna Station building have been under way. So far, several elements of the familiar city landscape have disappeared, i.e. the platforms, sheet metal outhouses adjacent to the station, umbrella roof over the platforms, platform structures and tenement houses at Składowa Street. Approximately 70 persons are involved in the works. Each day, the debris and steel elements from the construction site are disposed of by 10 - 15 dump trucks of load capacity equal to 20 tonnes.

June was the month in which the old Łódź Fabryczna station building disappeared from the face of the earth. First, the workers from the Mosaicon conservation company secured all the valuable fragments of the elevation, which will become incorporated into the structure of the new station. After that, the bulldozers entered the site and levelled the building within several days.

It was also in June that Trakcja-Tiltra S.A. started converting the platforms of the Łódź Widzew station. This marks another phase in the conversion of the station – a part of the second stage of the modernization of the Łódź-Warsaw railway line. By the end of 2014, the platforms will have been built, and the old footbridge will have been replaced by an underground passage.

The architectural concept of the new Łódź Fabryczna station was presented on June 21 in the building of the Łódź International Fair. The glass structure at the heart of the New Centre of Łódź will take the form of a waving ribbon. Deputy speaker and former minister of infrastructure Cezary Grabarczyk, one of the fathers of the project involving the modernisation of the Łódź-Warsaw railway line and the construction of the new railway station, was present at the event. The station was designed by SYSTRA. The designers described the new station as a 400-metre long ribbon, unfolding in the direction of the city. “We set forward three main objectives: to create a place which would kick-start the rebirth of the entire city; to make the station a friendly place, despite the fact that the entire structure will be underground; to preserve the historical context of the site”, said SYSTRA’s Bruno Sarret. The overground section of the station will be divided into two parts, separated by an area which will allow for additional illumination of the platforms. The western wing will be accessible by a ramp from the side of Kilińskiego street, which will lead straight to the level of -8 metres. Passengers will be able to reach the eastern entrance of the station by a car or a taxi. This wing will incorporate elements of the old station building’s elevation. The trams will be stopping on the northern side of the station, on level 0. Level -8 will house the infrastructure for passenger handling and a bus station. The trains will be stopping on level -16. The intention is to make the station bright and transparent; the passengers at the platforms on the -16 level will be able to see the sunlight. The southern side of the station will be occupied by open squares of greenery. The entire station, along with the details, is intended as an example of modern high-tech design. At the same time, the station will preserve the historical traditions of Łodź. The new appearance of Łódź Widzew station and its surroundings was also presented during the conference.

In August the old railway tracks were replaced by a technological route for the dumper trucks transporting excavated materials from the construction site. A historic shelter was also recovered from the location of the old railway station. The WWII-era bunker has been moved to a new location at 93 Konstantynowska Street.

On August 20, the chairman of the Łódź Agglomeration Railway, Maciej Głowacki, signed an agreement concerning subsidies for the construction of the agglomeration railway at the headquarters of the Centre for EU Transport Projects. The funds will be allocated for the purchase of new rolling stock and the construction of a maintenance and repair centre.
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On August 29 the Office of The Marshal and PKP PLK signed an agreement to renovate the railway libe between Łódź-Widzew and Zgierz, which has not been in use for many years. The overhaul will begin in 2013 and end in 2014. After the renovation, the trains will be able to reach the speed of 100 km/h across the section’s 12 kilometers. The whole trip should take about 15 minutes, including stops on intermediate stations. The line will be incorporated into the second stage of the development of the Łódź Agglomeration Railway, linking the largest towns and cities in the Łódź region. Three railway stations will be created on the ŁAR line: Łódź Stoki, Łódź Radogoszcz and Łódź Arturówek. The total gross value of the project is estimated at 23 million PLN (18.8 million PLN net value). 82 percent of the total amount (15.4 million PLN) will be funded by the Łódzkie Regional Operational Programme for 2007-2012.

On September 13, heavy excavation works finally started at the Łódź Fabryczna construction site. Only one excavator and ten dump trucks are used for the early stage of construction works, but in several days their number will increase to 6 excavators and 30 dump trucks. The dirt from the excavation site is being transported to the unused gravel mine at Pomorska Street in the Stoki district. The trucks from the construction site leave via a technological route built in the place the old railway tracks. The trucks then move along Niciarniana, Nowogrodzka, Widzewska, Wagonowa, Henrykowska and Pomorska Streets. Works are underway every day from 6 am until 10 pm.

In September the repair of the ring railway tracks between Łódź Chojny and Łódź Widzew started. The contractor for the investment – Porr – designed and rebuilt the tracks of the six-kilometer railway line # 540 between Łódź Chojny and Łódź Widzew. The overhead cables and the railway traffic control devices have been reconstructed.

September and October also saw another wave of controversies over the construction of the Łódź Railway station, caused by an inspection regarding the progress of the station’s conversion, undertaken by the JASPERS Initiative – an organization involved in EU funding. Some have voiced their concern, stating that this posed a threat to the investment. “This is a standard procedure”, reassured PKP PLK. According to the Minister of Regional Development, JASPERS requested additional information concerning the project. According to some commentators and politicians this might jeopardize EU funding, especially considering the uncertain future of the High Speed Rail, which was supposed to be correlated with the construction of the underground Łódź Fabryczna station. Jaspers was said to have had some reservations concerning the planned conversion.

In November Łódź joined the European initiative for cities with multi-mode communication centers – ENTER.HUB, or the European Network Exploiting Territorial Effects of Railway Hubs and their Urban Benefits. Bringing together cities with multi-mode communication centers, this European network aims at facilitating the exchange of experiences in order to develop the best possible model of communication. Currently, Gdynia is the only Polish city which has joined the initiative. Other participants include: Reggio Emilia (Italy), Ciudad Real and Girona (Spain), Creil (France), Ulm and Rostock (Germany), Örebro (Sweden), Porto (Portugal), Preston (the UK) and Lugano (Switzerland). Their suggestions will form a proposal for functional solutions, which should be used by Łódź in the development of the station’s neighborhood. The participation in the project cost Łódź nearly 40 thousand PLN. However, this only constitutes 20 percent of all participation costs. The city plans to obtain the remaining funds from the European Regional Development Fund.

On December 13 the Łódź Agglomeration Railway and Stadler Polska signed an agreement for the delivery of 20 trains which will be travelling the agglomeration lines in 2014. On October 16 the tender was won by Stadler Polska, which ran against only one competitor – Pesa from Bydgoszcz. Stadler chose their Flirt trains in their offer for the ŁAR. Although their offer was more costly than Pesa’s Elf trains, the price was not the only factor taken into account during the selection of the winning offer. The tender committee also considered such factors and the weight of the vehicles, their running costs and the number of seats. The contractor will be obliges to provide service works for 15 years. Stadler will receive a gross total of 382.6 billion PLN for 20 drafts of cars and up to 128.1 million PLN for their maintenance. Boasting 90 tons of weight, 34 meters of length and 96 seats, the flirt trains will be available for ŁKA passengers from 2014. The first batch of six Flirts will arrive in Łódź on April 30, 2014. Another 10 will arrive by the end of October 2014, and the last four by February 2015.
On 17 December, to construction works connected with cavity walls, i.e. the first concrete elements of the future train station, started on the construction site of the Łódź Fabryczna train station. Firstly, construction workers used a special gripping device fixed to a crawler train to make a narrow excavation (depth approx. 20 m) in the outline of the future underground train station hall. Simultaneously, the workers replaced the excavated soil with a special suspended matter called bentonite (a variety of clay mixed with water) to prevent the excavation walls from collapsing. Wall reinforcement elements were inserted in the suspended matter and concrete was poured on the excavation bottom to force the suspension out of the excavation. The poured concrete filled the whole space to provide a wall (thickness over 1 m) after the bonding process was completed.
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2013

On 23 January, the Centre for EU Transport Projects signed 23 pre-contracts for railway projects. They also included Łódź PKP PLK investment projects: construction of the western head of the Łódź Fabryczna station and feasibility study for the construction of the railway line in the tunnel from the Łódź Fabryczna station to the line no. 15.

On 11 March, Hanna Zdanowska, the mayor of Łódź and Marek Janiak (architect) presented the initial concept of the City Gate building, i.e. the urban development predominant feature of the New Centre of Łódź. The building is supposed to be a showpiece of the city and its height will not exceed 14 storeys. From 12 to 15 March, during the world's biggest real estate fairs MIPIM in Cannes, Łódź promoted the design of the New Centre of Łódź again, this time trying to raise investors' interest in the plot on which the City Gate is supposed to be built.

On 6 May, Cezary Grabarczyk, the Vice-Speaker of the Polish Parliament and former Minister of Infrastructure, disclosed that funds for the construction of the cross-city railway tunnel connecting the new Łódź Fabryczna station with the Łódź Kaliska station have been earmarked in the 2014-20 EU perspective. According to Mr Grabarczyk, it is likely that idea high-speed railways (KDP) will be recreated as the "Y" line is still described as a "base project" in the plans for the trans-European transport network (TEN-T). Mr Grabarczyk suggested that the investment project should be implemented in stages, i.e. firstly, the section between Łódź and Warsaw should be constructed within the framework of a public-private partnership, which would be economically justified for potential private investors as nowadays the largest passenger streams are detected on the conventional railway line between these cities. Moreover, high-speed railway would be complementary do the "Duopolis" idea, which gains numerous new supporters.

On 17 May, works consisting in pouring the floor slab on -8 m level commenced on the railway station construction site. After the slab is constructed, excavators will be introduced through special openings to remove soil to the -16.5 m level in order to facilitate construction of underground platforms. Thanks to implementing the underfloor method, works will be simultaneously performed both underground and on higher levels. Ultimately, the floor will be 1.2 m thick in the station section and 70 cm thick in the car park section.

On 12 June, the first stationary crane was constructed on the site. It will be used to transport large elements of the aboveground structure and move excavators under the currently poured floor slab on the -8 m level so that they will deepen the excavation to the -16.5 m level.
On 15 June, at the construction site of the railway station, concrete was poured over the first of 48 plots in the construction of the ceiling on the level of -8 metres. The operation was completed after 18 hours of uninterrupted concreting from two workstations. The concrete mixture was delivered to the site by 20 concrete trucks, which made app. 180 runs in total. 1000 m3 of concrete was used. In order to set the mixture correctly, special devices were used during the pouring, called poker vibrators. Their task is to thicken the concrete mixture in order for it to reach the desired homogeneity and cohesion levels.

In July, more cranes were placed at the site; in total, their numbers increased up to seven. The first works are started on the streets surrounding the station. The workers began with Kilińskiego and POW streets between Narutowicza and Składowa. Here, on the eastern side of the Moniuszko park, a tram line is being constructed. This way, a tram terminal will be created around the park. Kilińskiego street, which was a double carriageway along a longer part of the Narutowicza-Tuwima segment, will be narrowed to one roadway. A separate bus-tram pass will be constructed along its eastern side.

On 19 August, works were started on the reconstruction of platforms at the Łódź-Widzew railway station and the construction of a trench with the Łódź-Niciarniana station. To the west from the Niciarniana street, the trench will be transformed into a tunnel running to the Łódź-Fabryczna station. The investment also includes the construction of a shed over the platforms. The demolished bridge will be replaced with an underground passage adopted to disabled people’s needs.

On 12 September, on the 15th floor of the Textilimpex office building on Traugutta street, the Information Desk of the New Łódź Centre was opened. From this place, there is a view of the whole construction site of the new Łódź-Fabryczna station, revitalized EC1 constructions, the multimodal communication node, the construction site of the City Gate, and the planned passageways through blocks in the New Łódź Centre. Many Łódź residents interested in the progressing works at the station called for the opening of such an information and observation centre, modelled after similar places accompanying the largest investments in Europe. The entry to the centre is free. The centre is opened from Monday to Friday from 10.00 a.m. to 06.00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10.00 a.m. to 02.00 p.m..

On 12 September, Łódź councillors gave their consent to sale of the plot for the construction of the City Gate building. This is the first plot in the New Łódź Centre prepared by Łódź for sale to private investors. The Gate is supposed to be a dominant element of the whole NŁC and a connection between the new Łódź-Fabryczna station and the historical city centre, i.e. Piotrkowska street.

On 30 September, Hanna Zdanowska, mayor, announced that Łódź was going to run for the organization of the International Expo theme exhibition in 2022 or 2023. This huge international event would be completely focused on revitalization. Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, backed up Łódź efforts. At the same time, the PM and Elżbieta Bieńkowska, minister of regional development, announced that Łódź may count on a large piece of the EU cake allotted for the revitalization of urban areas. In 2014-2020, the government plans to allocate as much as PLN 25 bn out of the EU subsidies for this purpose. International Expo is a theme exhibition dedicated to a specific issue. In Łódź, this would be revitalization of urban spaces. The exhibition would be held in 2022 or 2023. Expo would provide great promotion opportunities. The exhibitions, which last for three months, are visited by a few million people, over 20 thousand daily. App. 100 countries open their stands there. The competitors of Łódź, who have announced their candidacy so far, include Newcastle in Australia, Copenhagen in Denmark and the Spanish Canary Islands. Hanna Zdanowska informed the public that all actions related to the candidacy would be coordinated by Błażej Moder, the President of the Management Board of New Łódź Centre.

On 29 October, the permit for the construction of the tunnel between the Łódź-Widzew and Łódź-Fabryczna stations became final. According to the design, the tunnel will be app. 1.5 km long and will be constructed using the top down method.

On December 19, the tender procedure for the purchase of the lot for the Brama Miasta (the City Gate) building was concluded. The most expensive location in the history of Lodz was sold for PLN 40 million and a thousand PLN, which means around PLN 50 million gross. It was bought by LDZ Brama, a company which was established by two Lodz companies: the Atlas Group and Budomal specifically to construct the City Gate. The company's bid was the only one in the tender. The assumption is for the building to become a centrepiece of the New Centre of Lodz and to spur investments in the area. The building was conceptualised by Daniel Libeskind, one of the greatest contemporary architects, who was born right here in Lodz in 1946. Rafał Leśniak, Chairman of Budomal quoted Daniel Libeskind: “(...) the time has come to unveil the image of my city in full Technicolor with a long shot of its democratic society vibrating with energy and the will to change for better.” Undeniably, this will be the first building in Lodz with such an innovative design. Not only will it enrich the Lodz cityscape, but it will also create a high-class public space thus symbolically enforcing the same requirement throughout the New Centre of Lodz. It will surely become one of the landmarks of the new Polish architecture and a true catalyst of change in downtown Lodz.

On December 31, a preliminary sale contract for the lot was concluded. The deed was signed by Hanna Zdanowska, President of Lodz, Gabriela Krauze, representing the Atlas Group and Rafał Leśniak, co-owner of Budomal. The city received the first instalment for the lot in the amount of PLN 12 million. Before that the company was required to place a deposit of more than PLN 4 million. By the end of June, the remaining PLN 32 million will be paid.

Also on December 31, Jolanta Chełmińska, Lodzkie Voivode, issued PKP PLK a permit for the construction of the Lodz Fabryczna Railway Station. The permit covers the construction of an underground railway station, a multi-platform bus station and an underground car park.
2014

On January 19, workers started removing soil from underneath the ceiling of the emerging 1.5-kilometre dual-chamber tunnel, in which trains will travel from Lodz Fabryczna to Lodz Widzew station.

January 27, was another milestone in the history of the construction of the Lodz Fabryczna railway station as workers began removing soil in the area of the central skylight over the future platform section of the station. Additionally, the intersection of Traugutta and Kilińskiego Streets was closed as the western wing of the station is located underneath it. In order to start removing soil it was necessary to first lower the level of ground water. Water was pumped out from underneath the construction site to the Jasień River.

On January 29, PKP PLK announced a tender for a supplemental feasibility study and tender documentation for the construction of a cross-city tunnel.

On February 4, the first pillars which will support level 0 were formed in concrete in the railway station construction site. There will be a total of 250 pillars.

In February, PKP PLK signed with the main contractor an annex to the Lodz Fabryczna railway station construction contract. The investment will be completed seven months later than planned which was September 2015. The reason for the delay is an underground lake located under the tunnel which is being constructed east of the station. This geological anomaly was found only when construction works had already been started which is why it was necessary to alter the project and as a result the tracks to the Widzew station will be laid slightly higher than it was originally planned. This has some further consequences. The concept of routing Niciarniana Street over the tracks as well as the technology for passing underneath the Kopcińskiego Street overpass have changed.

On March 4, the Local Spatial Development Plan for the New Centre of Lodz were offered for public access in the office of the City Urban Development Bureau. Thus, public debate regarding the shape of the new district was started.

On March 14, representatives of PKP PLK opened envelopes with bids in the tender for the supplemental feasibility study for the cross-city tunnel, which is to connect two Lodz stations: Lodz Fabryczna and Lodz Kaliska. 8 entities bid, with the lowest offer amounting to PLN 3.46 million and the highest PLN 7.3 million. PKP PLK assigned PLN 9.84 million (gross) for the project.

In March the readers of bryła.pl chose the revitalised EC1 building as the “Bryła roku”, i.e. the best revitalisation project of 2013.

On March 26, the first section of the ceiling at level 0 was concreted in the Lodz Fabryczna station construction site.

On 15 June, Łódź Agglomeration Railway (ŁKA) started operating. Modern Flirt trains travel along the Łódź-Sieradz route. Moreover, the first modernised platform of the Łódź Widzew station was opened for use.

On 4 June, on the 25th anniversary of the collapse of the communist regime in Poland, EC1 Fundacja Łódzka invited the citizens of Łódź to participate in a unique campaign. Four guard booths were placed in the four corners of Plac Wolności. Once, they had symbolised borders, slavery, restrictions. This time, we used them to invite the people of Łódź to celebrate their freedom. We wanted to remind the citizens why freedom is the reason to be happy, and to promote everything that comes along with liberty, namely individuality, creativity, self-reliance, uniqueness. The booths were decorated with the following slogans: Łódź Odjazdowa (Crazy Łódź), Łódź Kochana (Lovely Łódź), Łódź Jeansowa (Jeans Łódź), Łódź (Pr)Z(e)mysłowa (Sensual and Industrial Łódź) – this is how we described the city as we see it in the next 25 years. The citizens of Łódź expressed their feelings, hopes (both satisfied and disappointed), and expectations for the following quarter of a century.

On 29 July, construction works on a steel structure of the roof of the Łódź Fabryczna station started, first over the western part, and in September over the eastern part of the station. The scaffolding made of pipes was strengthened with crossbars which were later covered with glass roofing elements.

On 2 September, marshal of the Łódź voivodeship Witold Stępień presented the so-called territorial contract. It is a list of potential investments in the region, in the EU framework of 2014-2020. It has been discussed with local self-governments on the one hand, and negotiated with the government on the other hand. As a result of these arrangements, a list of the most important projects which will prompt the development of the region and the country has been prepared. Together with the Regional Operational Programme and state operational programmes, it is going to be one of the tools for implementing the strategy of the Łódź voivodeship until 2020. All the listed investments are worth PLN 27.5 billion. The list comprises the railway investments and those related to the construction of the New Centre of Łódź, including construction of the railway line from Warszawa Zachodnia to the CE20 line along the proposed “Y” line of the high-speed railway and construction of the tunnel between the Łódź Fabryczna station and line no.15. Moreover, two potential investments included in the list are related to development of the Łódź Agglomeration Railway, i.e. 2nd stage of ŁKA which involves construction of multimodal transportation hubs and railway stops, and the project of integration of public transport with the ŁKA system. The decision about co-financing of individual projects is going to be taken before the end of 2014.

In October, the distinctive skyscraper of Hotel Centrum began to disappear from the landscape of the New Centre of Łódź. It was not fit for rebuilding in accordance with present standards (e.g. the floors were not high enough for modern fire-protection installations or air-conditioning to be fitted). In the future, new office, commercial and residential buildings will be erected in its place, and thus a new corner of the Kilińskiego and Narutowicza streets will be formed.

On 24 October, the Textilimpex company which owns one of the twin skyscrapers at Traugutta street signed a building modernisation agreement with the Skanska company. The so-called Łódź World Trade Centre comprises office buildings from the 1970s, which are meant to be the tallest buildings of the New Centre of Łódź.

On 13 November, the government signed a territorial agreement for the Łódź province. The document concerns government investments in the region for the years 2014-2020, as agreed upon with the self-government. As a result, a list of the most important endeavours, crucial for the development of the province and the country, has been drawn up. Combined with the Regional Operational Programme and other national operational programmes, it will become one of the tools used to implement the strategy of the Łódź province by the year 2020. The marshall of the province has managed to obtain approval for investments worth PLN 26 billion. These include railway and the New Centre of Łódź (NCŁ) construction. The most important one is the construction of the cross-city tunnel between the Łódź Kaliska and Łódź Fabryczna railway stations. It means that about PLN 2 billion of funding is guaranteed for the investment. As soon as the feasibility study is completed, a procurement procedure for the tunnel design can start.

On 17 December, the representatives of the City and PKP SA announced their concept of the Special Zone of Culture, which is to be located on the plots between the Łódź Fabryczna Railway Station and the EC1 complex. Several new builldings will house offices, service providers, and apartments. The vision of development of the New Centre of Łódź area has evolved over time. The City decided to cooperate with PKP SA, which is interested in building an office block on top of the subterranean Łódź Fabryczna Railway Station. To this end, a coordination concept was devised to determine the most effective way to develop the area. This idea was followed by a spatial concept, concerning urban, architectural and transport solutions. As a result, a vision of development of the 6-ha area has been drawn up. It will house facilities boasting a combined floor space of about 169,000 square meters. The area is to be multifunctional and filled with easily accessible, safe and attractive public spaces. The station part is to be dominated by offices, while the Special Zone of Culture is to house service providers and apartments (around 655 apartments for ca. 1670 new citizens are planned), as well as hotels, restaurants and shops. This part of the city is to be alive 24 hours a day, providing around 8 thousand job opportunities. The City, on its part, wants to build the Kobro Market, an underground parking lot for ~1000 cars, and a road with technical infrastructure. An additional multi-storey parking lot may be built on the northern side of the station, in the vicinity of the Knychalski passage. Buildings around the Kobro Market will range from 5 to 8 storeys. What is more, one 3-storey and one 5-storey building are to be constructed at the crossroad of Kilinskiego and Traugutta/Składowa streets. The PKP SA plots will house four 12-storey buildings. The scale of development is to foster integration of the new centre with the redeveloped historical centre of Lodz.

On 29 December, city councilors passed the Local Plan of Spatial Development for the New Centre of Łódź area, as limited by the Narutowicza, Kopcinskiego, Tuwima and Sienkiewicza streets. The act was required to make private investors interested in the NCŁ project. The plan was passed after a heated discussion that saw opposition councillors suggesting to postpone voting and introduce further changes to the project. In the end, the ruling coalition was able to vote in favour of accepting the plans. Considering the initial concepts, the project has grown in scale. The New Urbanism evolution is clearly visible. The NCŁ is to add a human-friendly dimension to the town – it is to be an attractive public space, which will teem with life around the clock thanks to combining service and residential functions. What is more, the initial plans to build “the city” of business in the eastern part of the NCL have been abandoned. Building height has been limited mostly to five storeys. The only exceptions will include frontages at the Nowowęglowa Street; buildings surrounding the Station (four buildings up to 12 storeys) and buildings in the Special Zone of Culture (up to 8 storeys or about 25 meters), as well as dominant features: possible new redevelopment of the Hotel Centrum plot and the City Gate, which may rise up to 64 meters. Such a scale of the development is meant to foster integration of the new centre with the redeveloped historical centre of Łódź. An interesting fact is that the original Kobro market and “green wedge”, i.e. the area linking the Łódź Fabryczna Railway Station with the 3 Maja park (eastwards from the Kopcińskiego Street), has been shrunk. The current plan of the block includes a park between the Nowowęglowa, Nowotargowa, Węglowa, and Lindleya streets. Eastwards, behind the Lindleya Street, the park extends into a wide green alley along the northern side of the Nowowęglowa Street. Another important news is that absolute protection of all historical buildings in the designed block has been secured.

2015

On 20 May, the city councillors adopted the NCŁ Master Plan as an amendment to the NCŁ Programme, which has been in force since 2007. The study has been prepared by the Deloitte company. The document defines the final shape of the New Centre of Łódź. Completing all key projects and initiatives will allow the NCŁ to become a symbol of a city waking up to life, with a strong centre, drawing the best ideas from the rich history and at the same time alive with modernity. The master plan, 750 pages plus attachments in total, is the last element of the NCŁ planning process. It will constitute an attachment to the City Council resolution on the NCŁ Programme. Every year, the mayor of Łódź will file a report on implementing the Programme, basing on the schedule provided in the Master Plan.

At the same time, adoption of the Master Plan ends the activity of the New Centre of Łódź Authority. By 30 September, all projects carried out by the New Centre of Łódź Authority will be redistributed to various departments of the City of Łódź Office.

Moreover, adoption of the Master Plan means that the City pledges to continue with a pre-defined vision of the NCŁ and to reach its strategic goals like improving the quality of life, redevelopment, transport, and innovation. The time of completion of the NCŁ programme has been extended to the year 2030. Every year, the mayor of Łódź will file a report on implementing the Programme, basing on the schedule provided in the Master Plan. The document is a confirmation of the new, adjusted, and more human-friendly vision of the NCŁ. The previous concept, involving rescaled and culture and business-oriented architecture, was in opposition to the sustainable development doctrine and threatened the success of the entire project. The new idea for the NCŁ has evolved over the last few years and presently seems much more consistent with the current needs of the city and its inhabitants. The document lists all investment projects which are planned for years 2015-2022. Moreover, it includes initiatives sheduled for the future. These initiatives should be implemented by the City in order to complete all Master Plan goals. The plan also involves hard actions like construction of the multimodal node with a supporting road network, the Kobro Market, spatial redevelopment, redevelopment of the EC1 Południowy Wschód buildings and the villa at 3/5 Moniuszki Street. What is more, it will involve soft actions as well – development of green areas and public spaces, implementation of the Smart City ideas like a monitoring system or useful mobile applications. It is an important fact that all proposed projects have been included in the strategic city documentation, e.g. in the Multi-Year Financial Forecast. Such an approach reduces the risk that the Programme will be susceptible to alterations due to possible political changes in the City Office staff.

In May, a Local Action Plan has been announced for the NCŁ. The Plan has been prepared as part of Łódź participation in the ENTER.HUB project. It is a set of proposals concerning management of the New Centre of Łódź space during the transition period, as well as collection of information about the users of the Łódź Fabryczna multimodal node. The Plan was created by the so-called Local Support Group, consisting in representatives of Łódź and province authorities (responsible for transport policy and development), non-governmental organisations, academics, and university students. The document includes proposals of actions that are not only to turn the node into an attractive space to citizens and travellers, but also to stimulate the economic development of Łódź and its surrounding area. The strategy has been founded on two projects. The first one involves temporary development of the area (low-cost spatial solutions like construction of aesthetic service facilities, information booths, playgrounds, and city gardens). The second one involves initation of a research programme to study transport behaviour of the users of the multimodal node. It will be called “Łódź Communication Lab” (Łódzkie Laboratorium Komunikacyjne). Intensity of city traffic, sociological, psychological and economic aspects of transport will be analysed over the period of several years. It will provide data that will be used to draw up further plans to optimize functions of the Łódź Fabryczna Station as a transfer node for other means of transport. The data will also be used to prepare offer for individual carriers, i.e. the Łódź Agglomeration Railway, MPK and PKP, in order to adjust their services to the passengers’ expectations. Academics will be involved in the research.

On 18 May, the Trakcja PRKiI company started construction of the tunnel at the Niciarniana Street. Trains will go over the street to reach the Łódź Fabryczna station. The delay was caused by an (in)famous water pocket which affected the geometry of the tracks running to the Łódź Fabryczna station. As a result, the tracks behind the Łódź Widzew station have to be situated a bit higher than previously planned. Hence, the Niciarniana Street, which was to run on the ground level above the tracks, will run in a tunnel under them.

28 May brings the dispute between the City of Łódź and Dutch company Enkev to an end.

A section of Nowotargowa Street constructed as part of the Łódź Fabryczna train station project, will cross the plot that belongs to Enkev. On 28 May, a permission for the implementation of the road construction project was issued, and on 3 June, the area of land at Targowa 2 was handed over to the contractor.

On 16 June, A15 Tenali Inwestments, owned by the Skanska group, bought a plot of land for on which the City Gate will be erected. It was the only bid during the second auction of the plot at Kilińskiego street. The initial price was PLN 28 million. The plot was sold for PLN 28.5 mln.

On 30 September another change of the Łódź Fabryczna station completion date was announced. Currently, the investment is to be completed in August 2016.

In July, modernization of tracks and platforms at the Łódź Widzew train station was completed.

The previous footbridge leading to the platforms was replaced with an underpass with access for the disabled and cyclists and equipped with elevators. Platforms have new paving, benches and a new electronic passenger information system. The station is roofed with a steel shelter.

On 15 October 2015, during the Freedom Games Opening Night Gala in the Engine Hall of EC1, Mayor Hanna Zdanowska together with Andrzej Walczak, the initiator and creator of the idea of the New Centre of Łódź (NCŁ), began to outline the Łódź City Square: http://www.lodzkirynek.pl. The project refers to the idea that the New Centre of Łódź has a profound sense, with people and ideas bonding them together at its core. That is why before the real City Square is constructed, we create it in the Internet. The project is meant to connect people’s ideas, visions and opinions that will build the local identity.

On 22 October, the city of Łódź, together with Marshal’s Office of Łódzkie Voivodeship entered into a settlement regarding administration of funds under the Integrated Territorial Investments (ZIT). ZIT is a list of actions that Łódź and the surrounding communes are going to finance from the EU funds in the years 2014-2020, with a total value of over one billion PLN. The Metropolitan Area of Łódź (ŁOM) will be an intermediate body. It is an association of Łódź and four surrounding poviats. The Marshal’s Office will still review applications for financial aid from the formal point of view, but all of the procedures are going to be undertaken by ŁOM. In the upcoming years, PLN 408 mln is going to be granted to Łódź under the Integrated Territorial Investments. Due to this fact, area revitalization is going to be launched. It is a project closely connected to the idea of the New Centre of Łódź. Two blocks that are going to be revitalized are included in the New Centre of Łódź project. Others are in its close neighborhood.

On 27 October, the President of Poland signed the act on revitalization. This document will open way to development of a huge project Łódź renewal, based not only on investments and renovations, but also on legal mechanisms and prosocial activities. It regulates the most important legal issue of revitalization and adjusts the Polish law to the EU solutions related to dealing with social and infrastructure problems in postindustrial cities and areas. The city authorities received a tool which will help them handle the previously unsolvable problems. The Magistrate will have more freedom in performing renovations of municipal tenements and moving out those tenants, who block the renovation. Moreover, the buildings that are not owned by the City of Łódź will also possibly be covered by the funding scheme. Progressive real estate tax will be a weapon against those who refrain from investing in their properties. The City will also have the right to cooperate with private developers in relation to rental housing. Łódź will also have the priority right to purchase properties. If an heir of previous owners happens to claim his/her right to a building renovated by the City, s/he will receive a reimbursement or some other property. All these are going to be available within the so-called special revitalization zones, along with even more facilitators of administrative procedure, such as the right to grant renovation subsidies and exemption from tender procedures. The act on revitalization highlights the social character of revitalization. It is not renovations that are going to be its only key element, but activities aimed to counteract exclusion and support integration. Introduction of a return to work action plan will be required in the areas of revitalization (e.g. inhabitants of a particular area can be hired to perform cleaning or renovation works).

On 11 December the design contest for the architectural concept of the Kobro City Square has been announced. Kobro City Square is going to be situated in the heart of The New Centre of Łódź, between the Łódź Fabryczna train station and EC1.

The participants of the contest can submit their ideas until 15 February 2016. The decision about what the city square is going to look like will be taken by the end of February. The total sum of awards will be PLN 100,000, of which PLN 50 000 is going to be awarded to the winner. The best idea will be implemented as proposed.


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