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MILES JAKL  (1923-2010)

Biographical Overview

Miles Ralph Jakl was born on 18 June 1923 in Pátek, a village in what was then Czechoslovakia. By his own account, he was living in Prague by the late 1940s and studying at the university there.  During 1948-49, he travelled through the Continent, visiting Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and France.  Settling in Paris, he completed further studies and commenced a general architectural practice.  He remained living and working there until migrating to Australia in 1951 with his Czech-born wife Helen (nee Helena) (1922-1999).  The couple settled in Melbourne, where their two sons were born: Miles junior (1953) and Peter (1956).

In Melbourne, Jakl initially obtained work as a draftsman with the Shell Company, where he remained for three years.  In 1955, he commenced the architecture course at the Royal Melbourne Technical College (now RMIT) and received his fellowship diploma in November 1960. At the time that he became registered as an architect in April 1961, Jakl was employed in the St Kilda office of 
Palestinian emigre architect Mordechai Benshemesh.  He remained there until March 1962, when he left to open his own practice, with an office in Albert Road, South Melbourne.  

Little is currently known of Jakl's private practice in Melbourne.  One early project, commissioned by fellow emigre Peter Vidovic, was for a hilltop restaurant at Canberra.  Taking advantage of its elevated site, the building was conceived with a polygonal plan, faceted full-height windows and a spire-like roof.  Known as the Carousel, this eye-catching edifice became an instant landmark and attracted considerable publicity.  His output in Melbourne appears to have been more low-key, consisting primarily of industrial buildings, although his schemes for a house at Beaumaris and a highrise motel in Queens Road each drew a degree of press attention.  It is fitting that one of Jakl's last known commissions in Australia brought his career full circle: a house in Canberra for his early client Peter Vidovic. While this garnered considerable publicity, Jakl himself was not there to enjoy it.  In May 1968, a review of the house in the Canberra Times commented that "Mr Miles Jakl, formerly of Melbourne, has been lost temporarily to Australia: he is in Los Angeles, California".  Ultimately, this loss proved more than temporary.

Even less is currently known of Jakl's subsequent career in the United States of America.  It is recorded that he became naturalized as a US citizen in January 1977, by which time he was living in the Los Angeles suburb of Studio City.  Later, he and his wife moved to Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley, where he maintained his architectural office at 22543 Ventura Boulevard. The couple still lived in that area at the time of Helen's death in June 1999, while Jakl himself remained a resident of Woodland Hills until his own death on 14 December 2010, aged 87 years.

Select List of Projects




Renovation of residence for self, Rosemount Avenue, Caulfield
Carousel Restaurant for Peter Vidovic, Canberra, ACT
Additions to factory for Plasto Metal Products Pty Ltd, Bay Road, Cheltenham
Additions to factory for Cocivera & Son Pty Ltd, Gaffney Street, Coburg
Bulk store for Kagan Brothers, Central Avenue, Sunshine
Additions to factory for Bent Article Company Pty Ltd, Rowern Court, Box Hill
Residence for Matthew Chachich, Erowal Street, Beaumaris
Queens Motor Lodge, corner Queens Road and Union Street, Melbourne
Flats, Laburnum Street, Laburnum
Residence for Peter Vidovic, Beauchamp Street, Deakin, ACT

Remodelling of residence, 623 N San Felicianco Drive, Los Angeles, USA
Carousel Restaurant Canberra
Carousel Restaurant, Red Hill, ACT (1963)
(source: from a postcard; Reeves Collection)

Widawski House Brighton
Chachich House, Erowal Street, Beaumaris (1967)
(source: Australian Women's Weekly)

Vidovic House Canberra
Vidovic House, Beauchamp St, Deakin, ACT (1967)
(source: Australian House & Garden)