Helmut Jahn: Life + Architecture is a new exhibit at the Chicago Architecture Center honoring the late Chicago architect and style icon. Get to know this extraordinary man who will continue to inspire generations to come.
Chicago lost a radiant star with the recent death of Helmut Jahn (1940-2021). Known for the creation of progressive, often provocative buildings around the globe, Jahn’s talent, style and charisma also caught the attention of the world beyond design aficionados. Having received nearly every architectural accolade over the course of his career, Jahn still managed to compete in dozens of world championship sailing competitions and grace the cover of popular magazines like GQ.
Born in Germany, Jahn came to Chicago in 1966 to study at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). With an education rooted in formal modernism, he began forging a career in his adopted hometown with bold works that both extrapolated from and challenged modernist orthodoxy. Helmut Jahn: Life + Architecture presents important designs by the powerhouse architect, ranging from signature early projects like the crystalline Michigan City Public Library (1977) and Chicago’s dazzlingly provocative James R. Thompson Center (1985) to the transformational urban marketplace Sony Center in Berlin (2000) and the forward-looking Pritzker Military Archives Center, currently under construction in Somers, Wisconsin.
Photography, models and sketches illuminate each project and explore the collaborative design and engineering process, while personal imagery, video and recollections by those who knew and worked with Jahn underscore his flair for the dramatic and zest for life.