Samuely, Felix James

Felix James Samuely, B.Sc., M.I.C.E.  (1902-1959) award-winning founder of Felix J Samuely & Partners was born in Vienna in 1902, educated at Technische Hochschule in Berlin he qualified as a structural engineer opening his own practice. He was responsible for the building of many office blocks and factories in both Vienna and Berlin and was considered innovative and creative. During the German economic depression, he worked for a short time in the Soviet Union.

Forced to leave Germany because of racial persecution he came to England in 1933 and worked as a consulting engineer. Once again he opened his own practice in London, F J Samuely.

Although a structural engineer by training he joined the newly created MARS Group (Modern Architectural Research Group) a British think tank composed of leading architects and critics all interested and involved in the modernist movement.

In 1936 he worked together with Erich Mendelsohn on the construction of the iconic De La Warr Pavillion at Bexhill on Sea, where, according to the pavilion’s website, ‘Amongst the building’s most innovative features was its use of a welded steel frame construction, pioneered by structural engineer Felix Samuely’.  He was the structural engineer for Simpsons Department Store on Picadilly in London.

Postwar, a time for the large-scale rebuilding of war-damaged Britain found Samuely working on numerous projects including rising to the challenge of rebuilding  37 schools in a few short years to address the acute shortage. He was not alone in grappling with a shortage of timber and steel, making concrete of great interest.

He worked on the Transport Pavilion and Skylon for the Festival of Britain, the British Pavillion at the iconic 1958 Worlds Fair in Brussels, colleges of further education, hospitals, blocks of flats, a church in Connecticut constructed entirely in pre-cast concrete, blocks of flats for the London County Council (fourteen, eighteen and twenty-five storeys) part of the St. Thomas Hospital area, the spiral ramp at the Penguin Pool at London Zoo and on the old site of the US building in Grosvenor Square to name but a few of the many projects he delivered.

Felix Samuely also lectured at the Architectural Association School of Architecture.


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