Willesden architect whose ‘silver hut’ allowed Sir Edmund Hillary to climb Mount Everest dies at 104
PUBLISHED: 16:14 11 June 2015 | UPDATED: 13:39 15 June 2015
A retired architect from Willesden who designed the hut that allowed Sir Edmund Hillary to become the first man to climb Mount Everest has died at the age of 104.
Ezra Levin, of Willesden Lane, was also the man behind the iconic Odeon cinema in Leicester Square that became a blueprint for the chain’s other picturehouses throughout the country.
Born in 1910, in Haifa in Israel, Mr Levin, who was one of eight children, moved to Paris in 1930 where he studied architecture.
While there he started a relationship with Raya, who lived next door to him back in Israel, after she also moved to the city to study law.
The pair wed and moved to London in 1938 where Mr Levin started off as an architect assistant in the city.
He made his way through the ranks to become the chief architect for a company called TRADA.
Me Levin is heralded as the first architect to use timber in the construction of high buildings and was the mastermind behind “The Silver Hut” which was used by Sir Edmund to carry out his world-breaking expedition in 1953.
He was chosen after a mutual friend recommended his skills to Sir Edmund and the hut provided essential shelter for the New Zealander explorer during his climb of the 8,848m summit.
Film buffs have also sought solace inside of one of Mr Levin’s works thanks to his design which has not only been used for the West End cinema but throughout the country.
The avid book binder and furniture maker who could speak eight languages met The Queen in 1963.
He retired in 1980 and his wife sadly died in 1993.
Still very active in his later years, Mr Levin remarkably recited by memory a 20-page poem on his 100th birthday.
Mr Levin is survived by his two sons Danny and Teddy and his 94-year-old sister Malka.
Paying tribute to her uncle, Orna Bird said: “My earliest memory of him was when I was four and he took me to see my first film in the cinema. My mother didn’t want me to go but he took me anyway to see Genevieve with Kenneth Moore.
“He was an extremely kind and warm person who coped with the adversities in life in the bravest way.
“He sung non-stop when in pain and there was always light coming out of him all the time. He was like a lighthouse as we all felt his warmth and amazing personality.
“He was amazing.”
Mr Levin’s funeral took place today at Golders Green crematorium.
Ezra Levin (November 26, 1910 – June 4, 2015)