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The Woman Who Elevated Modern Poland’s Architecture

A new exhibit displays Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak’s talent, which strove beyond the postwar standards of mass-production and prefabrication in her home country.
Plac Grunwaldzki (Grunwaldzki Square) complex is a Wrocław skyline fixture, and one of the most unique works of residential architecture built in Communist Europe.
Plac Grunwaldzki (Grunwaldzki Square) complex is a Wrocław skyline fixture, and one of the most unique works of residential architecture built in Communist Europe.Chris Niedenthal

If you’ve spent even a fleeting amount of time looking at Brutalist or Eastern Bloc Instagram accounts and design books, you’ve seen Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak’s most famous work.

Her Plac Grunwaldzki (Grunwaldzki Square) complex is a Wrocław skyline fixture, and one of the most unique works of residential architecture built in Communist Europe. This tower cluster, colloquially known as “Manhattan,” has at last come to Manhattan for Patchwork: The Architecture of Jadwiga Grabowska-Hawrylak at the Center for Architecture. A 17-foot-by-8-inch model of one of the towers currently occupies the atrium of the Center, and employees note it sometimes blots out the sunlight.