Lajos Szantay was an outstanding architect in Arad, and the main representative of Secession style who designed buildings in this city. His greatest professional achievements were undertaken in the first two decades of the 20th century, and then the string of big public orders was interrupted by World War I.
Promoter of monumental, imposing, sober, elegantly proportioned architecture, reminiscent of the imperial grandeur, with unexpected details in the interiors, which prove his all-encompassing sophistication, Lajos Szantay is one of the famous architects of bygone Arad.
Between 1916-1918, he was enrolled in the army. After 1918, he did not build much, as he was rather involved in renovation, extension and restoration of existing buildings. (Mariana Croitoru, 2015)
(Arad, February 20, 1872 - Arad, March 8, 1961)
Academic /specialized studies:
1890-1895 - He attended the Faculty of Architecture, Polytechnic University of Zurich;
1897-1900 - He worked for Géza Majorossy, master conductor, from Budapest;
1900-1901 - He worked in the design office of architect-professor Anton Hofhauser in Budapest.
Professional Activity (affiliations, administrative positions, committees):
- Member of the Urban Commission of Arad; he was part of numerous organizations and committees:
- Chairman of the Philharmonic Society;
Member of the Cultural Institute of the Royal Free City of Arad.
Urban design and landscaping:
? - He designed the park of the Cultural Palace and the terrace of the promenade along the shore of Mureș River;
? - Neuman housing block.
1. Public Buildings
1909 - Headquarters of Arad-Cenad Bank, Arad (now BNR Palace);
1909-1910 - Cultural Palace *, Arad;
1910 - Railway station, Arad (with Ferenc Pfaff).
2. Private Buildings
1905-1911 - Szantay Palace **, Arad;
1906 - Kohn Palace, Arad;
1906 - Kovács Palace, Arad (with architect Babócs István);
1909 - Benoid Factory, Arad (demolished);
1910-1911 - Lloyd Palace, Arad;
1912-1913 - Bohus Palace ***, Arad.
3. Religious Architecture
1906 - The Evangelical Lutheran Church (Biserica Roșie), Arad;
1908 - The Palace of the Orthodox Diocese on Eminescu Street (including a printing house in the yard), Arad.
The main entrance of the Cultural Palace opens into a monumental hall punctuated with pilasters and covered by a vela arches. On three sides, the hall is surrounded by galleries, which creates the effect of an impressive space with several naves. Also, on these sides there are large ramps and stairs leading to the galleries. The bannister is made of marble pillars and wrought iron railings with abundant decoration. Along with the stucco masks or gilded vegetal ornaments and bas-reliefs, the most outstanding decoration in the hall is the painting on the dome in the central bay, depicting astrological elements. Access to the auditorium is through this monumental hall. Unfortunately, restorations in the communist period took their toll on the decorative elements. However, the stucco bas-reliefs and stained glass windows specific to Secession were preserved and are as impressive as ever through their elegance and refinement.
- Cinema theatre accommodating 1,000 people, not completed because of the outbreak of World War I.
Built during the most prolific creative period of architect Lajos Szantay, the building is dominated by geometric elements specific to the Secession style, but at points it has an eclectic subadjacent appearance, by using decorative elements of ancient and/or medieval origin. The cultural importance of the building is undisputed to this day, especially as it currently houses the State Philharmonic and County Museum of Arad.
** As one of the most important Secession buildings in Arad and throughout Transylvania, Szantay Palace, belonging to the typology of contemporary rental property, stands out through its specific woodwork, with original shutters and stained glass, through its decorative wrought iron elements and tinwork, and not least its freely designed plaster decorations, with geometric and vegetal elements, masks and volutes, appearing on the walls or gables of various shapes.
*** The building of imposing dimensions, inaugurated in 1913, was designed at the request of baron Bohus’s family, instead of an initial two storey construction, the Bohus house, occupying only part of the land. It was the first time in the architecture of Arad when reinforced concrete floors were used for this new building; the first cinema of the city was opened on the ground floor of the palace, in a room originally designed for this purpose.
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LANEVSCHI, Gheorghe, Arhitectul Szantay Lajos, Editura Asociaţia Eured, Arad, 2012.
ŞTEFĂNUȚ, Ada, Arta 1900 în România, Editura Noi Media Print, Bucureşti, 2008.