Who is the legendary John Q. Hejduk?

John Hejduk

John Q. Hejduk

John Hejduk graduated from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1950. In 1964, he returned to the institution to teach in the School of Art and Architecture. In 1975, he became Dean of the School of Architecture, where he developed the school’s renowned pedagogy for the next 25 years.

Many refer to Hejduk as a great architect and educator, mentor and man. He built a distinguished school of architecture. He taught and inspired two generations of Cooper architects, whose own teaching and work have left their mark on the world. He re-imagined and rebuilt one of New York’s great buildings. He designed and built housing in Berlin. He crafted books of poetry, and under his aegis, The School of Architecture published 21 volumes.

Over the span of his lifetime and career, twenty-six full-scale versions of his designs have been constructed as temporary structures around the world, primarily by schools of architecture in their respective cities. Venues include the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Triennale di Milano in Italy, Prague Castle in the Czech Republic and a traffic island opposite the Flatiron Building in Manhattan. The New York Times called John Hejduk “one of the most revered figures in American architecture and architectural education.” The feature-length account from July 2000 reported that his “influence on his students and others was profound” and said “his books [of drawings] have been compared to the work of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the 18th-century Roman whose engravings of imaginary prisons were a decisive influence of neo-Classical architecture.”

In 1964, Hejduk was named director of the architecture department and then-combined Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture. The Board of Trustees commissioned Hejduk in 1971 to renovate and reconstruct the College’s Foundation Building, a national and city landmark. When the architecture department was established as the autonomous Cooper Union School of Architecture in 1975, Hejduk was appointed its first dean. In 1998, Cooper honored Hejduk with its Artist of the City Award and its first Lafayette Medal (the medal is given to an artist or architect who has exemplified humanity and elegance for the public good). Hejduk died of cancer on July 3, 2000 at the age of 71.

This article was originally posted in the november 2012 CUAA Newsletter