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John Quentin Hejduk

19-07-1929 - 03-07-2000

The American John Quentin Hejduk (1929-2000) is an avant-garde architect and theoretician. Despite the fact that only a few of his designs have been built, his reputation primarily rests on his theoretical teaching work. In the early 1970s, Hejduk begins to conceive ways of innovating the family home, the most celebrated example of which is his series Wallhouses. 

Hejduk trains at the Cooper Union Institute in New York, followed by the University of Cincinnati in Ohio and Harvard University in Cambridge Massachusetts. He amasses practical experience by working for various firms of architects including that of Ieoh Ming Pei.

Hejduk is noted for his research into the fundaments of architectural design from the perspective of the formal principles of art movement, a direction he embarked upon in the 1950s. In 1965 he sets up as an independent architect in New York and also lectures at Cooper Union. Here, where architecture is blended with other art disciplines in a way that recalls Bauhaus, Hejduk plays a key role in shaping critical thinking on architecture. His students include Daniel Libeskind, Enric Mirailles and others.

Hejduk’s early work centres on the design of strictly geometric houses. The Wall Houses series is the most salient example of architecture from this period, although a Wall House will not be built until 2001, after his death. Called the Bye House, or Wall House #2, and built in Groningen, the design does not pivot around a living room or central hall, but a free-standing wall onto which the various rooms are ‘hung’ as separate elements.

Hejduk’s significance in the world of architecture mainly rests on his theoretical works. His oeuvre of realised buildings is modest and consists only of the Demlin House in Locus Calley on Long Island (1960), the Hommel Apartment in New York (1969), the restoration of the Foundation Building of the Cooper Union in New York (1975), the residential complex with studio tower on the Charlottenstrasse in Berlin (1986-1988) and a villa on Berlin’s Tegeler Hafen (1985-1988).

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