Karl Langer, architect, town planner, and landscape architect was one of the most influential Queensland architects of the 1950s.
Born in Vienna, he was head architect in the Vienna office of Peter Behrens. Following the annexation of Austria, he came to Australia, together with his Jewish wife, art historian and critic, Gertrude Langer (1908-84), arriving in Sydney in 1939. They moved to Brisbane for work and after being naturalized, in 1945, he became eligible to join professional bodies such as the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and the Queensland division of which he was president.
Langer brought modernism to Queensland and influenced a whole generation of architects in the 1950s. He work reflected his interest in designing for the climate and incorporating the garden into his designs. As well he was a lecturer in town planning at the University of Queensland, he also taught at the Queensland Institute of Technology. Both institutions were to award student prizes in his memory.
Karl’s wife Gertrude, a trained art historian, was also influential in Brisbane. She was the art critic for The Courier-Mail and a valued member of the Queensland Art Gallery Society.
The John Oxley Library holds a significant number of Karl Langer architectural drawings, see accession R 83, including town plans for Mackay and Toowoomba; drawings for schools and colleges including St Peter’s Lutheran College at Indooroopilly and the chemistry layout for State High; significant buildings such as Lennons Broadbeach Hotel and the first of the Gold Coast Canal developments as well as domestic buildings such as the Indooroopilly home for Dr.Val Vallis.
Karl Langer died in Brisbane in 1969. Following a service at St Peter’s Chapel, which he had designed, he was cremated at Mount Thompson crematorium, another of his buildings. His wife survived him.
State Library of Queensland exhibition Hot Modernism continues until the 12th of October.
Patricia Parr – Librarian, State Library of Queensland