by: Tim Hayduk
We regret to inform our membership about the passing of Stanislawa “Siasia” Nowicki-Sandecka. Nowicki-Sandecka earned her master’s degree in architecture from the Warsaw Polytechnic Institute prior to World War II. In 1946, she and her husband, architect Matthew Nowicki (1910-1950) traveled to the United States on a dual diplomatic mission from the Polish Government to help rebuild Warsaw and participate in the design and construction of the Headquarters of the United Nations.
Nowicki-Sandecka’s teaching career began at the University of North Carolina after arriving in Raleigh in 1948. Her impact at the University was noted by Henry L. Kamphoefner, FAIA, founder and Dean Emeritus of the School of Design: “I recognized the quality of her design capability and asked her if she would agree to teach. In that first fall of 1948, she agreed with a very positive hesitation to teach half time. She developed a very sensitive and innovative foundation course for beginning design students and immediately became one of the school’s most respected teachers.” Her teaching continued at the School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania in 1951 after her husband’s death in an airplane crash while returning from Chandigarh, India. Her career at the University of Pennsylvania continued until her retirement in 1977, with one year spent teaching at the University of Southern California in 1963.
The American Institute of Architects recognized Stanislawa Nowicki by awarding her an AIA Medal at the annual convention held in Dallas in 1978. The February 16, 1978 issue of AIA’s newsletter, Memo, stated: “Stanislavwa Nowicki, former professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, is being honored for her contributions to and influence on the architectural profession. A skilled graphic artist, draftsperson, and designer, she has devoted most of her life to teaching the fundamental principles of design and their relationship to architecture.”
The Center for Architecture had the honor of hosting one of Siasia’s great grandsons during a Vacation Programs a few years ago. We were told that his family had taken him to the places his grandparents had designed and built over their respective careers. Perhaps a future generation of Nowickis will contribute to a well-designed future.