In Memory of John Hejduk, 1929-2000
by Michael J. Crosbie
John Hejduk, one of the most original architects in the United States, succumbed to cancer on July 3. Until June he was dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York. He was known more for his visionary works of architecture on paper and his influence on graduates of Cooper Union—such architects as Daniel Libeskind and Elizabeth Diller—than his built work—such as the interior of Cooper's building at Astor Square in New York City.
Hejduk was born in New York in 1929. He retained his thick Bronx accent and for years was a resident of that borough. He studied architecture at the Cooper Union, at the University of Cincinnati, and at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, from which he graduated in 1953. He then worked at a number of architecture firms, including I.M. Pei's. He developed his love of drawing early in his career, and it flourished, becoming more florid and expressive over the years. While early projects were rendered in rigid lines that looked as though they had been drawn with nails, his later works, such as the Mask of Medusa (which later became one of more than 20 books) are softer and sketchier, capturing the rich narrative character of his work. His large archive of drawings was acquired three years ago by the Canadian Center for Architecture.
Hejduk started his teaching career not long after graduating from Harvard. He was one of the "Texas Rangers" that descended on the architecture school at the University of Texas at Austin in the 1950s. Hejduk eventually returned to his first school and became the Cooper Union's dean in 1975—a post he held for 25 years.
Architect and educator John Hejduk has died at 71.
Photo: R. Miller
Image: John Hejduk Archive, Collection CCA
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