“Smyk” Department Store

Karol Śliwka

Warsaw Symbols

„Smyk” Department Store, although built in 1949-52, during the height of socialist realism era in Poland, was one of the boldest late modernist tributes to modernity. The most important element of the project – designed by Zbigniew Ihnatowicz and Jerzy Romański – was a reinforced concrete structure of a 5-storey building erected on pillars with full-height glazing.


It featured one of the first underground parking lots in the Polish People’s Republic and the second escalator in Warsaw. Originally, the building housed the Central Department Store, visited by over 80,000 people during the first three days after the opening. On the open terrace on the mezzanine floor facing Aleje Jerozolimskie (Jerusalem Avenue) was a popular café. The spectacularly situated rooftop restaurant was a popular photoshoot location. The building was featured in the novel Zły (The Man With White Eyes) by Leopold Tyrmand as a place where the protagonist chases Filip Merynos.


In September 1975 the building was destroyed in a re. Unfortunately, much of the original design was abandoned during reconstruction. Since the 1980s, the newly opened building housed the „Smyk” Department Store offering children’s goods. The revitalization of the building ostensibly aimed at restoring its former character was begun in 2014, however, fewer and fewer residents of Warsaw believe that, as the building has been almost completely demolished.