Helmut Jahn Wiki – Helmut Jahn Biography
Helmut Jahn, the famous German American architect behind some of Chicago’s most impressive buildings, including the Thompson Center, died when he was struck by two vehicles while riding his bicycle Saturday afternoon, according to Campton Hills police. He was 81.
Jahn was one of the most inventive Chicago architects whose impact on the city – from the skyline to the O’Hare tunnel – will never be forgotten. His architectural footprint will be felt & seen across the globe for generations to come.
I extend heartfelt prayers to his family. https://t.co/R3e6zyfhro
— Mayor Lori Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) May 9, 2021
How Old was Helmut Jahn?
He was 81 years old/
Helmut Jahn Accident, Death Cause
Jahn was riding his bicycle northeast on Old Lafox Road, approaching its T-shaped intersection with Burlington Road, about 3:30 p.m. Saturday “and failed to stop at the posted stop sign,” according to a news release from Campton Hills police, a village near St. Charles in west suburban Kane County.
“That’s what multiple witnesses relayed,” Campton Hills Officer Scott Coryell said. “For an unknown reason, he failed to stop.”
A silver Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV headed southeast on Burlington Road struck Jahn, according to the statement from Steven Millar, Campton Hills police chief.
A second vehicle, a silver Hyundai Sonata headed northwest on Burlington Road, then struck him as well, the statement said.
“He was hit by the Trailblazer going south(east) and ended up in the north(west) lane where the Sonata hit him,” Coryell said by phone Sunday morning.
Jahn was pronounced dead at the accident site.
The driver of the Trailblazer and a female passenger in the SUV were not injured, officials said. The driver of the Sonata, a woman from Elburn, was taken to Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva with injuries that were not considered life-threatening, police said.
Coryell confirmed the deceased was the world-famous architect who planned the Thompson Center when he was just 39.
Helmut Jahn Death and Investigations
Jahn was 81. Campton Hills Police investigated the cause of Jahn’s crash, and confirmed his death to the Chicago Tribune and other news outlets. He was pronounced dead at the scene in Campton Hills, a village near St. Charles, a western Chicago suburb in Kane County.
Jahn was riding his bicycle in Campton Hills, near St. Charles at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 8, when he was hit by two vehicles, Campton Hills police said in a news release summarized by the Chicago Tribune and other news outlets. Multiple witnesses told police Jahn did not stop at a stop sign as he approached an intersection, for unknown reasons.
“That’s what multiple witnesses relayed,” Campton Hills Officer Scott Coryell told the Chicago Tribune. “For an unknown reason, he failed to stop.”
Awful, sad news: Prolific and influential Chicago architect Helmut Jahn is dead at 81, killed in a bicycle crash in Chicago’s far western suburbs. https://t.co/VLSXNM6TD9
— Blair Kamin (@BlairKamin) May 9, 2021
He was riding the bicycle northeast on Old Lafox Road, approaching its T-shaped intersection with Burlington Road when he was hit in the village, a western Chicago suburb in Kane County.
Steven Millar, Campton Hills Police Chief Steven Millar told news outlets a silver Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV headed southeast on Burlington Road struck Jahn, and then a second vehicle, a silver Hyundai Sonata headed northwest on Burlington Road, struck him also.
Jahn’s best-known work is the Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph St., which houses the government offices for the state of Illinois. The full name of the building is the James R. Thompson Center. Jahn planned the building at age 39, and it was completed in 1985, according to the Chicago Architecture Center. He broke tradition with the unusual shape of the building, which is meant to symbolize the commitment of the state government to its people.
“The Helmut Jahn-designed center of state government is unabashedly Postmodern, with colorful details and a shape that references the dome of the state’s capitol. In addition to making a bold first impression, its design is intended to communicate a message. The openness and transparency of the building are meant to symbolize the state’s commitment to serving the people,” the Chicago Architecture Center writes.
The state government has proposed the sale and demolition of the building, and Jahn responded with a proposal to save it with a 110-story addition, according to Architecture Magazine.
“The best way to save the building, and to improve it, is to re-purpose it,” he said in a 2017 statement.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot extended her condolences to Jahn’s family in a social media post praising his creativity and imprint on the city.
“Jahn was one of the most inventive Chicago architects whose impact on the city — from the skyline to the O’Hare tunnel — will never be forgotten,” she wrote.
According to a profile on the website for his firm, Jahn, the architect earned a reputation for his “progressive architecture” and his buildings earned “numerous design awards and have been represented in architectural exhibitions around the world.”
The profile said Jahn graduated from the Technische Hochschule in Munich, Germany; in 1966 he moved to Chicago to study further at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
“He is committed to design excellence and the improvement of the urban environment. He believes the continuous innovation of architecture has to do more with the elimination of the inessential, than inventing something new,” it said.
Jahn also taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, was the Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Design at Harvard University, the Davenport Visiting Professor of Architectural Design at Yale University, and the Thesis Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, according to his profile.
Jahn is survived by his wife, Deborah Jahn, with whom he owned Seven Oaks Farm — a 27-acre facility with two arenas that offers training, lessons, breeding and selling. According to an online tribute, the couple had a son, Evan, “with whom (Helmut) shared a passion for competitive sailing.”
The Seven Oaks Farm website and the tribute page note Jahn’s enjoyment of equestrianism and fixing up the property.
“The Jahns purchased the farm … several years ago and fully renovated the house and the barn and built a large indoor arena (designed by Mr. Jahn) and spent most weekends at the farm, while still maintaining their home in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood,” said the Saddlebred Memoirs page administrator.
Deborah Jahn’s profile page on the farm’s website said she and her husband, when working on the property, “added many architectural gems and improvements to the property to make it world class.”
Blair Kamin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former Chicago Tribune architecture critic, said Jahn was a “dashing star of an architect.”
“He was on the cover of GQ. He was renowned as much for his persona as for his architecture, but his architecture was always exceptional. And, as time went on, he was regarded as less of a ‘Flash Gordon’ character and more of a modernist master,” Kamin said.