John Hejduk Wall House 2 (A. E. Bye House) Project , Ridgefield, Connecticut (Isometric) 1973

  • Not on view

Life has to do with walls; we are continuously going in and out back and forth and through them; a wall is the quickest, the thinnest, the thing we're always transgressing, and that is why I see it as the present, the most surface condition. -John Hejduk

Wall House 2 (A. E. Bye House) is the second in a series of projects that John Hejduk began in the mid-1960s to explore what he called the "first principles" of architecture. Designed for the landscape architect Arthur Edward Bye in 1971, it investigates the wall as the original architectural device. Wall House 2 reinterprets the traditional configuration of a house: instead of being enclosed within one shell, rooms and circulation systems are physically isolated from each other. Kitchen, dining area, bedroom, and living room are stacked curvilinear volumes, linked vertically by an independent circular stair and connected to a study by a corridor. The wall—which Hejduk sets between the rooms and the circulation systems, so that one has to pass through it to move from one room to another—becomes a line of passage, a boundary. A palette of yellow, green, black, brown, and gray reinforces the division of function, corresponding respectively to the energy of cooking, the nourishment of dining, the dark of night, the earth of life, and a realm of reflection.

The shallow space of Hejduk's drawings has often been called "cubist." In traditional isometric drawing, vertical lines are projected upward from a plan rotated forty or sixty degrees. Such a drawing permits a view of three surfaces: the top and two sides. The lines that Hejduk projects upward, on the other hand, are directly parallel or orthogonal to the plan. The resulting drawing presents two surfaces instead of three, collapsing top and side in a construction that stresses frontality over depth. Combined with the muted palette, this technique moves the drawing toward the role of an intellectual investigation separate from practice, conferring on architecture the power to evoke the mysteries of everyday existence.

Publication excerpt from an essay by Tina di Carlo, in Matilda McQuaid, ed., Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 176.
Additional text

Wall House 2 (A. E. Bye House) is the second in a series of visionary projects that John Hejduk began in the mid-1960s to explore what he deemed the first principles of architecture. As with the first in the series, he used the wall to reinterpret the traditional configuration of the house in his design for the landscape architect Arthur Edward Bye. Each functional component (or room) is isolated from every other one, and all but one (the study) are stacked adjacent to the same wall. Thus, the wall becomes a dividing element, which must be passed through on leaving or entering a room, as well as a unifying element, which binds them. The separate function of each room is reinforced by its color: green reflects the nourishment of dining, yellow the energy of cooking, and gray the realm of reflection. Originally designed in 1973–76 for a site in Connecticut, the Bye House was eventually built in Gröningen, the Netherlands, in 2001.

Publication excerpt from an essay by Bevin Cline and Tina di Carlo, in Terence Riley, ed., The Changing of the Avant-Garde: Visionary Architectural Drawings from the Howard Gilman Collection, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 119.
Crayon on sepia diazotype
28 x 40 1/8" (71.1 x 101.9 cm)
Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation
Object number
Architecture and Design

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