Skip to main content

Helmut Jahn: 1940-2021

Helmut Jahn’s impact on architectural design in Chicago was immediate and enduring. A year after arriving from Germany in 1966 to study with Fazlur Khan and others at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Jahn joined C. F. Murphy Associates, the firm Charles Murphy established in 1936 after leaving Daniel Burnham’s firm. His influence grew and 14 years later the firm was renamed Murphy/Jahn.

Jahn's innovative and high-impact designs in the 1980s were emblematic of their times but also uniquely Jahn’s. His design of the United Terminal at O’Hare defined international travel for a generation, and his 1985 J.R. Thompson Center in the Loop was a truly original postmodern design that avoided the usual pastiche.

Thompson Center inspired what was perhaps his most prominent international work: Berlin's Sony Center, completed in 2000. In recent decades Jahn continued to push his design forward with the 2003 State Street Village student residences for IIT and the 2011 Mansueto Library for the University of Chicago.

Learn more about Jahn's life and work or view his 2017 CAC talk, The State of Architecture.