This honor—created especially for the first National Design Awards—is bestowed on individuals who have achieved the feat of becoming cultural icons by taking highly personal, even iconoclastic, paths to hone a unique vision of design.
John Hejduk, 1929-2000
True romantics are dangerously scarce these days. Thus the death of architect John Hejduk this past 2000 was a loss of devastating proportion. He was his profession’s poet. Hejduk transformed a traditional practice into an intellectual and spiritual voyage that investigated architecture as the expression of ideas—ideas about the human conditions of personal relationships, community, and rites of passage from birth to death. In effect, he created an architecture of the soul. An American original, he forcefully crossed mediums and presaged the current developments in virtual architecture. As Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art for twenty-five years beginning in 1975, he influenced generations of architects with his passion and deeply imprinted them with his vision. Through his lifelong investigations, Hejduk, ever the transcendental pragmatist, illuminated new corridors of thought and practice.