German architect Helmut Jahn, long a powerhouse of Midwest design, is dead at 81 after a fatal accident on Saturday afternoon. Jahn was reportedly struck by two vehicles while riding his bicycle in the western Chicago suburb of Campton Hills and pronounced dead at the scene.
Jahn will be remembered for his eclectic and postmodern contributions to skylines around the world, but especially in Chicago; in 1978, he joined the “Chicago Seven,” a group of architects looking to push back against the prevalence of modernism in the design world, alongside other heavy hitters like Stanley Tigerman, Ben Weese, and James Nagle.
While the monumental James R. Thompson Center in Chicago has captured headlines lately as state officials try to offload the 1.2-million-square-foot satellite capitol complex, Jahn’s terminal contributions to O’Hare International Airport, the cyberpunk-ish Sony Center in Berlin, and crystal-topped Two Liberty Place in Philadelphia are just a few of the major landmarks left behind by Jahn around the world.
Jahn had actively been pushing to save the Thompson Center, releasing an adaptive reuse plan for the 17-story glass tower in February of last year that would have turned the center into a complex containing apartments and tech offices.
This is a breaking news story and AN will follow this announcement with a more in-depth obituary with remembrances from Jahn’s colleagues.