Stopped! Hejduk campaign gets results.

2010.04.12

Having tried (and failed) to link to our latest press release as a Pdf located elsewhere, it seems clearer to simply include it here as a post; it gives a useful update of what’s been going on.  I must admit that I’m just a helper now – the campaign has been picked up from its humble beginnings and rocketed forward by Robert Slinger and Claire Karsenty at Kapok Architects, Ian Warner at SLAB, Florian Köhl at FAT KOEHL ARCHITEKTEN, and Matthias Reese at Reese Architekten, along with many others.

Do keep spreading the word, both about John Hejduk’s building in particular, and about the gradual chipping away at the buildings of the IBA programme in general.

Press release runs as follows:

The campaign to save John Hejduk’s Kreuzberg Tower and Wings in Berlin from defacement has galvanised the international architectural community in the last ten days, and appears to be working and effecting change.

The campaign to save the buildings was set in motion a few weeks ago by Dr. Renata Hejduk, daughter of the architect and professor at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at Arizona State University. It was taken up by a group of concerned Berlin architecture activists, who have worked flat out in support of Dr. Hejduk’s efforts to convince the owners to adopt a refurbishment strategy that his faithful to Hejduk’s original intentions.

An online petition was set up to try and save the buildings from the planned alterations after unsuccessful attempts by Dr. Hejduk to have a meaningful discussion with the building’s owners. Two Berlin architecture blogs, “SLAB-mag” and “Architecture in Berlin” have provided a running commentary of ongoing developments. Now the public pressure generated by the campaign and its supporters appears to be paying off.

The building’s managers, BerlinHaus GmbH have replaced images of the purple and white proposals with a written statement to the overwhelming reaction. In it they indicate a willingness to engage in discussions to arrive at broader consent. Their statement is quoted in full below.

In addition, as a result of the campaign, Matthias Peckskamp, Head of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg urban planning department has approached the owners via their architect, in the hope of seeking a more sympathetic approach. BerlinHaus informed him that the site work has been halted until agreement can be reached. In addition, the Berlin Senate has become involved, with Senate Building Director Regula Lüscher set to act as a mediating party between the owners, the city and representatives of the Hejduk estate in a meeting set for 19th April. Mr. Peckskamp hopes a resolution here could set a positive precedent for other threatened IBA schemes in the future.

In just two weeks, the online petition garnered almost 3,000 signatories from all over the world. The impressive list of supporters includes prominent architects such as:

Peter Eisenman

Steven Holl

Bernard Tschumi

Daniel and Nina Libeskind

Shigeru Ban

Henning Larsen

Michael Rotondi

Thom Mayne of Morphosis

Sir Peter Cook

Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, and Charles Renfro of D S+R in New York

Jean Philippe Vassal of Lacaton & Vassal in Paris

Raoul Bunschoten of Chora in London

Donald Bates of LAB in Melbourne

Gunter Zamp Kelp, Berlin

Jan Kleihues of Kleihues+Kleihues in Berlin

Michael Sorkin, New York

Lebbeus Woods

Matthias Sauerbruch and Louise Hutton of sauerbruch + hutton

Julia Bolles and Peter Wilson

as well as a host academics and historians including:

Joseph Rykwert of the University of Pennsylvania

Anthony Vidler, Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture Cooper Union in New York

K. Michael Hays of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Stan Allen, Dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton University

Prof. Alberto Perez-Gomez ,Professor at McGill University in Montreal

Prof. Wim van den Bergh, Professor at RWTH, Maastricht and Aachen University

Christine Hawley of UCL, London

Peter Carl of LMU, London

Ben Nicholson, Associate Professor at the Institute of Chicago

As well as signing the petition many supporters have also voiced support for the effort as well as the importance of John Hejduk’s work and legacy.

Steven Holl said:

Considering the last half of the 20th century, only three architects lifted the culture of architecture into the realm of poetry: Louis Kahn, Louis Barragan and certainly John Hejduk.”

Shigeru Ban said:

‘‘John Hejduk was one of the most influential educators and architects of our time. John’s IBA tower in Berlin embodies a message of selflessness in a world so often dominated by greed.”

Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of Harvard University Graduate School of Design, said:

John Hejduk’s Berlin Tower is a rare example of architecture from one of the 20th century’s most poetic architects. We should do all we can to preserve and celebrate it.”

Michel Sorkin said:

The good news of the renovation of John Hejduk’s wonderful Berlin Tower is betrayed by the whimsical vandalism of its “restorers.”  What next?  Perhaps the Blue Mosque would be more satisfying in pink.”

John Hejduk is best known as one of the ‘New York Five’, as Dean of the Cooper Union School of Architecture in New York, and for his many published projects and writings which influenced a generation of architects. The Kreuzberg Tower is one of only a handful of built works by this influential architect. Berlin has three examples, all social housing schemes built as part of the IBA 1987 international building exhibition.

Managers Berlinhaus: (http://www.berlinhaus.de/)

Statement regarding the works:

Images of their proposals can be seen here: http://fantasticjournal.blogspot.com/2010/03/disturbance-at-hejduk-house.html.

English translation of statement from BerlinHaus (from their website):

Project development Charlottenstraße 96-97

As new owners of the building ensemble Charlottenstraße 96-97 in Berlin – Kreuzberg we are planning urgently necessary facade repairs.

After the completion of some initial works, we have received repeated requests to engage in a broader public discussion in respect to the design of the facades, and to consider the special characteristics of the building and its architecture.

We see ourselves as a responsible company, which does not only undertake refurbishment for the preservation and increase in property values, but acknowledges the interaction which takes place between such measures and their surroundings and site specific conditions.

Therefore we are glad to face up to the challenge of finding broad design consent.

First discussions are currently taking place into how a promising inclusion of different interest groups can be achieved.

We are glad to continuously keep you informed about the current state of this process.

Categories : 1980s   IBA 87   John Hejduk
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