Pritzker Archives architect Helmut Jahn dead at 81

Kenosha News Online 

The Pritzker Archives & Memorial Park Center, currently under construction in Somers, will now not only stand as a testament to the citizen soldier, but also to the post-modern architecture of the late Helmut Jahn.

Jahn died Saturday in a cycling accident near the horse farm where he lived in St. Charles, Ill. He was 81.

“I was honored to know Helmut Jahn, one of Chicago’s most innovative architects,” said Col. Jennifer Pritzker, founder and chairwoman of the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. “He will be greatly missed, but his impact in the world of architecture will never be forgotten.”

Jahn’s iconic designs have included the James R. Thompson Center (the State of Illinois Center), the kaleidoscopic United Airlines terminal at O’Hare International Airport and the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library at the University of Chicago.

Worldwide, Jahn was known for his design of: One Liberty Place, Philadelphia’s tallest building at the time it was finished in 1990; the Sony Center in Berlin; the Messeturm in Frankfurt; Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok; and 50 West Street, a luxury condominium tower in Lower Manhattan.

The archival center in Somers was one of Jahn’s latest projects.

In a joint statement on Jahn’s passing, TAWANI Enterprises and Pepper/Riley Construction wrote, “It has been an honor and privilege to work with such an influential and renowned architect. Our condolences go to his family and friends during this difficult time.”

“The Pritzker Archives & Memorial Park Center was one of Jahn’s latest projects, and we are forever grateful for his design genius and inspiring hands-on approach to every detail,” the statement added.

Scot Pepper, President of Pepper Construction, which is a joint venture partner with Riley Construction, said Jahn’s legacy will live on through his projects.

“We are privileged to have had the opportunity to partner with Helmut Jahn on such an important project,” Pepper said. “His passing is a great loss to the industry — and to all the future visitors of the Pritzker Archives & Memorial Park Center who will marvel at his vision.”

Born near Nuremberg, Germany, Jahn was the son of Lena (nee Werth) and Wilhelm Jahn, a teacher. He obtained his undergraduate architecture degree at the Technical University of Munich before moving to Chicago in 1966 to study under modernist Ludwig Mies van Der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Jahn joined the firm of Charles F. Murphy in 1967, taking sole control of the practice in 1981.