Biography

Hudec ca 1943
Laszlo Hudec in his office, ca 1943. From the University of Victoria Hudec Collection

Laszlo Hudec was born in 1893 in northern Hungary, the area that later became Slovakia, in the town of Besterczebanya/Bancabastrika. As a young man, Laszlo's father, a builder, encouraged him to work in all aspects of the trade. From 1911 to 1914 Hudec studied architecture and engineering at the Royal Budapest University. After the completion of his degree, he joined the Austro-Hungarian army, only to be caught by the Russians in 1916 and sent to prison camp in Siberia. Two years later, in 1918, Hudec was on a prisoner of war train headed for the interior of Russia from Habarowsk, a prison camp close to the Chinese border. Hudec jumped train and made his way into China, eventually arriving in Shanghai.

In Shanghai, Hudec joined the American architectural firm, R.A. Curry. By 1925, he had established his own office and was one of the leading architects in the city. By 1941, he had built at least 50 buildings (a hotel, several churches, a power station, factories, banks, office buildings, as well as numerous private residences).

Hudec's name

Laszlo Hudec's name changed after coming to Shanghai, by his own initiative and and also by people writing about him. His student papers have his signature as Hugyecz, a Hungarian name. Obviously, Hudec is easier to spell and pronounce, and is more commonly understood to be a Slovakian name, so he assumed that name in Shanghai. His first name has always been Laszlo. However, it is often seen written as Ladislaus, which is the German version of the name. Hudec was very proud of his past as a citizen and officer of the Austro-Hungarian empire, seeing in it the glory of Hungary, and never relinquished the link that his name established with his Hungarian heritage. His family is adamant that he would always prefer Laszlo, even among the German community in Shanghai of which he was nominally a part through his wife's family.

[I wrote this text, with some variation, in 1998 for the Hudec Archive at the University of Victoria, Special Collections. The text on this website should be considered more up to date than on the Special Collections site.]

Looking at Hudec's Architecture

Two buildings that exemplify Hudec's range of skill and style are his house on Columbia Road and the Park Hotel (Guoji Fandian) on Bubbling Well Road (Nanjing Lu).

House on 57 Columbia Road (page 1)
House on 57 Columbia Road (page 2)
house thumbnail
Park Hotel (page 1)
Park Hotel (page 2)
park hotel thumbnail
Online and other resources first character of Guoji Fandian
Home page first character of Guoji Fandian

All rights reserved. © 2005 Lenore Hietkamp

Contact: lrhat signu.washington.edu