Finding Hudec - The incredible story of Hungarian architect

Budapest, FUGA

Last month, at the end of May I accidentally found this fascinating free exhibition about the world famous Hungarian architect Laszlo Hudec (in Hungary we call him Laszlo Hugyecz). My father and I were just walking around and then passed by a cultural centre named FUGA. I remembered the place because I was there for a fashion show back in February. So, as we were walking near Ferenciek Square my dad suddenly proposed the idea to go and take a look inside. Well, honestly I did not expect this but we found four great exhibitions at the same time. What is more, all of these expositions offered something new and unconventional. The reason I chose to write about Finding Hudec is the amazing story behind the architect’s career that I believe, not a lot people know.

Starting at the very beginning, Hudec was born in 1893 in Besztercebanya (today: Banská Bystrica, Szlovakia). His mother was Hungarian, his father Slovakian and Laszlo considered himself both Hungarian and Slovakian equally. Between 1911 and 1914 he studied architecture at the Technical University of Budapest. His great talent drew many teachers’ attention onto him. Right after his graduation in 1914 he got hired by the offices of Ervin Ybl but unfortunately, World War 1 started. He got drafted into the army and later in 1916, was captured at the Ukrainian front by the Russians. He spent some time in the military prisons of Siberia. Later he was transported by train along with other soldiers but the train had to stop at the Chinese border. Hudec grabbed the chance to escape and made a run for it. He ended up in Shanghai where he joined an American architectural office. In a few months, he became chief architect mainly because of his background in classical design and engineering.

The company was focused on elegant public and private buildings in the Western concessions of Shanghai like the Chinese-American Bank or the American Club.

In 1922, he married a Swiss-English woman called Gisela Meyer. They had three Children and the family lived in a house designed by Hudec. For more freedom to express his style he opened his own studio in 1925. This was when the business really started for him. Clients from all around China were looking for his services. He became the busiest architect of Shanghai. He designed a hospital, a movie theatre, a church, a university and many residential buildings. Amongst all of these exceptional architectural works he designed his best known masterpiece, the Park Hotel which is a 22-story building with a height of 84 metres. The Park Hotel remained the tallest skyscraper of Asia until 1952.