John Hejduk was an American architect well known for his artwork, published writing and experience as an educator. Hejduk spent most of his life living and working in New York. Although not many of his designs were ever built, he has a body of published work that was preoccupied with obscure objects and shapes that were often beyond buildabiliy. This interest in abstract shapes was furthered by organisation, representation and reciprocity in architecture.
Education and Early Career
Hejduk graduated with his Masters in Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1953. Before then he also studied at the Cooper Union of Art and Architecture as well as the University of Cincinnati. Following graduation Hejduk took up work in several reputable offices in New York, including I.M. Pei and Partners and A.M. Kinney and Associated. In 1965 he set up his own practice, staying in New York.
Hejduk has been affiliated with several architectural schools of practice including the ‘New York Five’ which disseminated from a MoMA publication that included the works of five architects. Amongst the group are other renowned architects including Peter Eisenman, Richard Meier, Michael Graves and Charles Gwathmey. Another group which Hejduk was a part of is the ‘Texas Rangers’, a group of architects and professors formed from the Texas School of Architecture, Austin, which included Colin Rowe and Werner Seligmann.
From 1972 until his death in 2000, Hejduk was the Dean of the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture. During his time at the Cooper Union, Hejduk transformed the architectural education, practice and critical thought through the cooperation of many influential professors. Amongst those who taught alongside Hejduk was Raimund Abraham, Peter Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey, Diana Agrest, Diane Lewis, Elizabeth Diller and Scofido (now Diller Scofidio + Renfro), David Shapiro, Don Wall and many more. The changes that were instigated have been compared to impact that Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe had at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Hejduk’s early work and subsequent curriculum stemmed from exercises that explored cubes, grids and frames spliced with diagonal containers often set against a curving wall. From here he moved to towards experiments with flat planes coupled with curving masses in bright colour combinations (see Wall House 2). In 1967 he was awarded a grant from the Graham Foundation to aid his research.
These exercises in modernist space-making that drew heavy influence from Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe gave way to explorations in free-hand "figure/objects" influenced by mythology and spirituality, clearly expressing the nature of his poetry. The relationship between the shapes and objects produced by Hejduk in context to their surroundings has been a controversial subject, raising similar questions to the early residential work by Peter Eisenman.
Realised projects by Hejduk began to be built in the 1980s, with a small concentration in Berlin including Hejduk Tower (also referred to as the Berlin Tower and Kreuzberg Tower), IBA House for Two Brothers (House of the Quadruplets or Tegel Housing), and Gate House. Following his death in 2000, the Municipality of Groningen, Netherlands commissioned Wall House 2. A large portion of his work is held at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.
- Education Of An Architect A Point Of View (1988, 1999)
- Pewter Wings Golden Horns Stone Veils: Wedding in a Dark Plum Room (1997)
- Adjusting Foundations (1995)
- Architectures In Love (1995)
- Security (1995)
- Berlin Night (1993)
- Soundings (1993)
- Aesop's Fables with Joseph Jacobs. Illustrations by John Hejduk. (1991)
- Práce (Practice) (1991)
- The Riga Project (1989)
- Vladivostok (1989)
- Bovisa (1987)
- Mask of Medusa (1985)
- Fabrications (1974)
- Three Projects (1969)
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