January 19, 2022
Our first high-rise building in Poland, the 32-story Warsaw Financial Center (WFC), comes in at no. 26 in our countdown of the Top 100 Projects in Epstein’s history.
As a member of the GRE Partnership, a joint-venture group comprised of Golub & Company, Raczkiewicz, and Epstein, Epstein provided design and engineering services for the construction of Warsaw's first western-style office tower. The 780,000-square-foot WFC, located on the prime intersection of ul. Emilii Plater and ul. Swietokrzyska in the Central District of Warsaw, was designed by Kohn Pederson Fox, with Epstein serving as the architect of record, structural engineer and interior designer for public spaces.
When complete in 1998, the WFC provided 150,000 square feet of space for diverse banking functions, and 350,000 square feet of space for high-end corporate offices. In addition to these primary uses, the building contained public amenities such as a health club, retail stores, a restaurant, and an enclosed, above-grade, 6-level parking structure that accommodated 400 vehicles.
The WFC design ties into the existing urban fabric of Warsaw by clearly marking three specific scales of buildings in the district. It has a base that rises about 100 feet, which recognizes the height of neighboring buildings. Furthermore, within that base from ground level to 50 feet, there is greater articulation and definition of materials. The street level offers public access to the National Bank as well as the main lobby for the tower. The ground level is also enriched by a specially designed plaza and landscaped sidewalks. Above the base, there is a significant setback along ul. Panska and ul. Marianska at about 225 feet, which acknowledges the intermediate post-war height of much of the construction in Warsaw.
The challenge of this project was to design the first state-of-the-art 32-story high-rise office building in Poland, and to incorporate an enclosed parking facility, commercial spaces, health club, nightclub/restaurant, a full floor computerized telebanking facility, rentable office floors, and the corporate facilities for the National Bank of Poland. Besides the obvious language and cultural differences, this design occurred during a period of transition, when Poland was beginning to adopt multiple western codes, so that many meetings and much correspondence was required to satisfy local and U.S. code requirements. Even more time was invested in programming the bank's very specific functional requirements, which differed very much from a U.S. client's needs.
The project was a full team endeavor - civil, architectural, heating, ventilating and air conditioning, plumbing, fire protection, electrical, building controls, and interiors. Because of substandard infrastructure, the Epstein-led design team was required to design a complete, standalone water filtration plant in the basement. To utilize the Warsaw district high temperature hot water system, a heat boiler was designed to provide heat for the building during those periods of time when the district heating systems was out of order. This complicated building design was successful because we were able to provide a complete team-coordinated effort and pull the many requirements of the project into one concept early in the design phase.
When the WFC was completed in November of ’98, nearly 540,000 square feet of space was presold to a division of Bank Austria Creditanstalt. The remaining space was leased up over a period of 18 months to a stabilized level of occupancy of 95% and has remained at or near this level since that time. In the nearly 25-year history of the WFC, the building's tenancy has included such notable entities as General Electric Company, the World Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Ernst & Young, Bloomberg, and the Wall Street Journal.