Helmut Jahn, a well-known German architect who worked on the construction of the FBI headquarters in Washington and designed a famous Illinois state government building, was killed in a weekend bicycle accident outside of Chicago.
Jahn, 81, was hit by two vehicles while riding north on a village street in Campton Hills, about 55 miles west of Chicago, on Saturday afternoon. According to Campton Hills Police Chief Steven Miller, Jahn refused to stop at a stop sign at an intersection and was hit by two cars travelling in opposite directions.
At the scene of the crash, Jahn was pronounced dead. The driver of one of the cars that hit Jahn was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to authorities.
Jahn was born in Germany in 1940 and graduated from Munich’s Technische Hochschule, according to his firm’s website. In 1966, he moved to Chicago to study at the Illinois Institute of Technology under legendary architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a pioneer of modernist architecture.
In 1967, Jahn started his professional career with CF Murphy Associates, which later became Murphy/Jahn. He worked on a number of high-profile projects, including Chicago’s McCormick Place and the United Airlines terminal at O’Hare International Airport, which features a colourfully lit walkway. He was also involved in the construction of the FBI’s headquarters in Washington, the J. Edgar Hoover Building.
The Sony Center in Berlin and the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand are among Jahn’s foreign projects.
“Helmut had an exceptional career both for its length and for the consistent quality of the work,” Reed Kroloff, dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture, told the Chicago Tribune on Sunday. “At his height, he was one of the most influential architects in the world. Not only formally, but technically. He engaged early on with building-skin technologies that were very advanced. He created buildings of every variety.”
The James R. Thompson Center, a glass-encased Illinois government office building in Chicago’s Loop that opened in 1985, was one of his most contentious structures. It was listed for sale just a few weeks ago. The 17-story structure, according to state officials, is a burden on state funds because it is expensive to run and needs hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs.
Jahn taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Harvard University, Yale University, and the Illinois Institute of Technology.