The charismatic, German-born architect leaves a design legacy that includes the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago, Park Avenue Tower in New York, and One Liberty Place, in Philadelphia.
German-born, Chicago-based architect Helmut Jahn, FAIA, was killed in a bicycle accident on Saturday, May 8, about 40 miles west of the city where he first made his name. He most recently worked at his eponymous firm Jahn. Previously he was the executive vice president and director of planning and design of the venerable firm C.F. Murphy Associates, which Jahn renamed Murphy/Jahn in 1981, and then simply Jahn in 2012.
Jahn first came to attention when he left the Illinois Institute of Technology graduate program in 1967 to assist Gene Summers design the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe–inspired McCormick Place, in Chicago, for C.F. Murphy Associates. The classic lines of that lakefront icon carefully extended the mid-20th–century language of the modern master. Following Mies’ death in 1969, architects began to look to the more distant past for relevance, spawning the Postmodern movement of the 1970s and 1980s. Jahn wasn’t part of the Stanley Tigerman–led Chicago Seven group that defined the movement in 1976, but he was the first person added when the group reprised its gallery exhibit the following year.
Jahn forged his own path through those postmodern days of classical forms and bright colors. At a time when an out-of-towners’ reference to Chicago was sure to include Al Capone, Jahn eagerly embraced that imagery. His appearance on the cover of GQ in 1985 evoked smiles and smirks from other Chicago architects when his attire was carefully staged to invoke the early 20th–century mobster. His flashy structures built in the city during that period—like the State of Illinois Center (now the James R. Thompson Center)—only added to his celebrity at a time before the term starchitect was widely used.
Read on >>> Source: Helmut Jahn Dies at 81 | Architect Magazine