Travelogue - Looking for John Hejduk

architect John Hejduk
project House of the Suicide and House of the Mother of the Suicide, Jan Palach Memorial, Prague, Czech Republic
written by Leo Modrčin


I am standing in front of the Jan Palach Club in Rijeka with a group of students whom I am taking to see the iconic spot where the proverbial grunge rock status of the city was born, to the club named after the heroic Czech Jan Palach who self-immolated in Prague in 1969 in protest of the Soviet invasion of his country. I explain who the person commemorated on the black granite plaque is, as I prepare to embark on a trip to visit the monument to Jan Palach in Prague, a project designed by an American architect, John Hejduk. The memorial in Prague consists of two structures: The House of the Suicide and The House of the Mother of the Suicide, erected at the wharf of the Manes Bridge in 2016, sixteen years after the architect’s own demise. I am taking my family along in order to make it easier to deal with the purpose of this trip: to find traces of Jan Palach and his torments and to reunite with the work of John Hejduk – not where it was created, in New York, but in the heart of Europe, the ancestral home of his family.