Ivan Margolius was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, the son of Heda Margolius Kovály, a translator and writer, and her first husband Rudolf Margolius. Both his parents were Holocaust survivors. He began to study architecture at the Czech Technical University in Prague, but left the country in 1966 because of political persecution of his family. He settled in the UK, where he completed his architectural studies at the Polytechnic of Central London and became a naturalized citizen. He worked as an architect at Yorke Rosenberg Mardall, Foster and Partners, Koetter Kim and Associates and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. He is the author of numerous articles and books on art, architecture, automobiles, design and history, and a family history, Reflections of Prague: Journeys Through the 20th Century, published in 2006.