Hidden legacy

Reading Room, British Architectural Library

The Reading Room of the British Architectural Library, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London


It was the British Architectural Library (once also known as the RIBA Library) at the RIBA that played a crucial role in ensuring that the archive of Adolf Loos was saved during the Second World War. Several key players were involved in rescuing it from possible destruction during the conflict; among those were Loos's friend, Ludwig Münz, and the RIBA Librarian, Edward J 'Bobby' Carter.

Viennese art historian Ludwig Münz (1889 - 1957) was a member of Loos's circle of artistic and intellectual friends and played a crucial role in the preservation and promulgation of the architect's work. Originally trained as a lawyer, Münz studied art history first at the University of Vienna and at the University of Hamburg, where the famous Warburg Library was located. Though principally a Rembrandt scholar, Münz had a broad range of interests. The psychology of art and in particular, the nature of creativity itself, fascinated him.

Münz was Loos's literary executor and after the architect's death in 1933 he began exploring his archive with a view towards writing a book about his work. However, as an outspoken opponent of National Socialism, Münz was forced to flee Vienna for London; his politics as well as his Jewish origins put him at risk. Taking Loos's papers with him, he was supported by friends and occasional teaching and writing, yet was also interned for a time as an enemy alien when the war broke out.  


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