Leo Meisl

Date of birth: 10. 9. 1901 Plzeň

Death date: 18. 11. 1944 Terezín

Biography

The German-speaking Pilsen architect Leo Meisl enriched Pilsen’s architecture culture with a set of outstanding buildings reflecting contemporary developments in the Prague milieu and continuing the emotional (poetic) dimension of European Functionalism, paying attention to the aesthetic and psychological effects of architecture. Elegant curves as well as pure geometrical shapes, nautical symbolism, variations in ceramic cladding and the contrast of fragile building materials with large glazed surfaces are the common denominators of Meisel’s peak, unfortunately rather short, creative period.

Leo Meisl was born on the 10th of September 1901 into the family of the Jewish merchant Karl Meisel in Pilsen, where he also attended the German Grammar school. In 1925, he graduated from the Deutsche Technische Hochschule (German Technical University) in Prague, and around the year 1930 he settled down in Pilsen, where he was active as an independent architect. The centre of his work was made up mainly of interior adaptations for Jewish clients (e.g. for Otto Theiner and František Edelstein) and projects of apartment buildings and private villas. He also designed minor funeral architecture (the tombstone of Adolf Riedl) and in the years 1931–1936 he was active in the Association of Visual Artists of West Bohemia and was a frequent participant in their exhibitions and architecture competitions. Meisel’s largest project was the architectural–urbanist solution of the City Fair Ground from the years 1937–1938, which he realised in collaboration with Karel Krůta and Stanislav Smola (see C2–2861).

Meisl’s professional career of almost ten years went into decline in the late 1930s because of his Jewish origin, especially after 28th July 1939 when the Nuremberg Race Laws came into effect in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Despite being persecuted in different ways (he was forced to move house and yield the apartments in his own apartment house to the Housing Board), Meisl was not included in any of the three transports of Pilsen Jewish citizens dispatched to Terezín in January 1942. The date of the 21st January 1943 is traditionally given as the day he left Pilsen – it is the date of his last preserved entry in the registration card for tenants. According to witnesses, the architect subsequently changed his appearance and was hiding in Prague, where he was arrested in the end and transported to Terezín. Leo Meisl died in the concentration camp on the 18th November 1944.

 

Selection of other works

1930
Project of the adaptation of Hotel Continental facades, No. 312/8 Zbrojnická Street, Pilsen

1930
Competition design ”Hurvínek“ for the Pilsen Bio Elektra cinema (3rd place)

1932
Design of the Hus People’s University on Denisovo nábřeží, Pilsen

1934
Adaptation of shop windows for Emil Wollner, No. 12 Klatovská Street, Pilsen

cca. 1937
Návrh uličního průčelí Společenského domu, Pobřežní 10, Plzeň

1937
Vila of the stone mason Jan Kokoška, No. 10 Nepomucká Street (Hradiště u Plzně)

1937–1938
Pavilion of the Burghers Brewery in the premises of the City Fair Ground, No. 2 Radčická Street, Pilsen

1938–1939
District Court and Tax Offices, Plzeň-Kralovice, House No. 493
 

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