Dorton Arena Architect Matthew Nowicki

On August 31, 1950, architect and designer Matthew Nowicki, best known for engineering the landmark Dorton Arena on the State Fairgrounds, died in a plane crash. He was returning from a trip to India where he was engaged in planning the new Punjab capital city of Chandigarh. He had sketched the building’s preliminary drawings just before his departure.

A Polish immigrant to the U.S., Nowicki and his wife were members of the founding faculty of N.C. State’s School of Design. He became involved in the Dorton Arena project after one of his colleagues at State introduced him to N.C. State Fair Manager J. S. Dorton, who sought to make the fair the most modern in the world.

After his death, Nowicki‘s wife, Siasia, teamed up with Raleigh architect William Dietrick to realize his vision. Upon its completion, the designers were recipients of the first American Institute of Architects Honor Award in 1953, and Dorton Arena was recognized as a National Civil Engineering Landmark.

The structure was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 for its exceptional national significance only 21 years after its construction.

Though remembered mainly for his work on Dorton, the project was only one of Nowicki’s masterpieces. Before his work on the Raleigh stadium, Norwicki was well-known for designing several public structures in Poland, helping to rebuild the greater Warsaw area after World War II and working on the team that designed the United Nations headquarters in New York.

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