The work of John Hejduk (1929–2000) – architect, poet, and, above all, teacher – lies at the intersection of architecture, narrative, sculpture, and poetry.
As an educator Hejduk influenced generations of architects who were taught by him between 1964 and 2000 at the influential Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. Hejduk also served as the school’s first dean (1975–2000).
Hejduk’s built works are few and include the award-winning renovation of the Cooper Union Building (1970–1974) and Tegel Housing in Berlin (1988). He preferred to publish his series of evocative and gorgeously coloured drawings and models in books that explored architectural ideas marked by an exploration of the social and psychological dimensions of space. Twenty-six full scale structures based on his drawings have been constructed temporarily in different locations, including the Architectural Association in London, Prague Castle in the Czech Republic, and New York City. The archive holds two of these structures – The House of the Suicide and The House of the Mother of the Suicide – originally constructed at Georgia Institute of Technology in 1990 and recently included in a John Hejduk exhibition organised by the Whitney Museum, New York.
Because Hejduk’s oeuvre is a body of ideas carried principally through drawings rather than ’’buildings," his archive at the CCA stands as the central record of his work. The John Hejduk Archive comprises well over 4,000 manuscript drawings, models, sketchbooks, prints, and documents for 105 projects spanning the entirety of his career, with materials dating from 1947 to 1996.
The archive includes early student works of the late 1940s; the exquisitely drafted Texas House and Diamond House series of the 1950s and 1960s; the Wall Houses and masques of the 1970s and 1980s, comprised largely of freehand drawings; and the final works of the 1990s, the often highly coloured Berlin Night, Soundings, Vladivostok, Adjusting Foundations, Pewter Wings, Golden Horn and Stone Veils: A Spanish Wedding in a Dark Plum Room.
These drawings and sketchbooks stand somewhere between the raw material and the original maquettes for numerous publications, such as Victims (1986), Collapse of Time (1987); Lancaster/Hanover Masque (1992), The Riga Project (1990), and Berlin Night (1993).