Helmut Jahn 1940 – 2021

Helmut Jahn, the legendary architect who used skyscrapers to leave his mark on Chicagoland and the rest of the world, died Saturday afternoon at the age of 81.

According to the Kane County Chronicle, a police report indicates that Jahn was riding his bicycle on Old Lafox Road in far west suburban Campton Hills, and didn’t stop for a stop sign at Burlington Road. He was struck by two cars, and died at the scene.

Helmut Jahn in March, 2016 (file)
Helmut Jahn in March, 2016 (file)

Jahn lived at the Seven Oaks Farm in St. Charles, a 27-acre mid-1800’s working horse-breeding farm with his wife, Deborah.

Before the era of the “starchitect,” when professionals started designing for social media, Mr. Jahn was an architect’s architect. As the eighth member of the Chicago Seven, he rebelled against the mechanical blandness that had become the state of modern architecture, and worked to build something that was new, while embracing useful forms of the distant past.

Anyone’s who’s been to Chicago has seen his work, whether they know it or not. Among his creations are:

Most recently, he was engaged in the fight to save one of his more controversial works: The Thompson Center at 100 West Randolph Street. Recently, the State of Illinois put it up for sale, and the city affirmed zoning which could see the deconstructionist pile torn down and replaced with a skyscraper over 100 stories tall. Just last week, the Thompson Center made the list of Illinois Most Endangered Buildings for the fourth year in a row.

Location: Intersection of Old Lafox Road and Burlington Road, Campton Hills, Illinois

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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