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Famed Cape Town architect Louis Karol dies at 93

Louis Karol

Louis Karol

Published Jul 20, 2021

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Cape Town - Louis Karol, an architect who played a pivotal role in shaping Cape Town’s modern skyline has died. He was 93.

Karol arrived in Cape Town on October 31, 1936, as an 8-year-old to join his father, a house painter, just before the passage of the Anti-Aliens Act which barred Jewish immigrants from Western Europe as anti-semitism was on the rise.

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Karol was born in the small hamlet of Pikeliai, Lithuania, to an Orthodox Jewish family, and remained an Orthodox Jew his entire life – never working on Saturdays and maintaining his Jewish values, according to his son Eitan Karol.

“His father and grandfather were craftsmen who worked primarily for the Prussian noblemen living in the Baltic states,” says Eitan.

Louis started school aged 8, speaking no English but within 18 months he had risen to the top of his class.

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His family lived in Muizenberg. He attended Cape Town High School next to the Company’s Gardens after which he got into UCT’s architectural school in 1946, graduating with a first class pass in 1951.

While still a student at UCT, he started his practice. His only employer for six weeks was another architectural firm, while he waited for another project to start.

But once he got his practice on a solid footing, he married Sonja Katz in November 1952 and they remained married until his death.

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The couple had two sons and a daughter, along with eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

“His practice went from strength to strength, surrounding himself with talented individuals and creating Cape Town’s first multi-disciplinary corporate practice. In later years, the office, through a programme of education and empowerment , became a Level 2 BBEEE studio. Upon his retirement, the practice evolved into Peerutin Karol Architects,” Eitan said.

Karol’s work includes The Albion Mill apartment block in Newlands; St Martini Gardens in Queen Victoria Street; The Gardens Shopping Centre; The Golden Acre; Gardens Commercial High School; Cape Sun; Pier Place; and the Victoria Wharf shopping centre at the Waterfront.

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