Jerzy Soltan is a Polish architect, urban planner and industrial designer.
He was born in Premza, Latvia in 1913 and studied architecture at the Warsaw
Technical Institute in Poland, where he first became acquainted with the work
of Le Corbusier. While still a student, he won a state-sponsored competition
for the Social Security Centre in Vilna (now Vilnius; erected 1937-39). Shortly
after receiving his master's degree, however, he was drafted into the Polish
army, because of the Second World War. He was captured by the Germans, and placed
in a prison camp where he spent the remainder of the war. He occupied his time
corresponding with Le Corbusier and translating his book When the Cathedrals
Were White. When the war ended, Soltan went to Paris and worked for Le Corbusier’s
architectural firm. Between 1945 and 1949 Soltan worked on several projects,
including the Unité d’Habitation in Marseilles, and the development
of the proportioning system of the ‘Modulor’.
During the 1950s and 1960s Soltan moved back and forth between Europe and the United States. Until 1951 he was dean of the architecture programme of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. From 1959 onward he started teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He subsequently became a professor of architecture, and eventually chair of the department of architecture (1967-74). He retired in 1979.
Soltan became a frequent visitor of the Team 10 meetings. As professor at Harvard he formed a direct connection between the older CIAM generation of Giedion, Gropius, Sert and Tyrwhitt who all taught at Harvard, too.
Jerzy Soltan died on 16 September 2005.