Helmut Jahn exhibit opens at Chicago Architecture Center

John Garcia Image
Friday, July 23, 2021
EMBED <>More Videos

The James R. Thompson Center is one of Helmut Jahn's best known works in Chicago, but a new exhibit celebrates his full legacy in the city he called home.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The James R. Thompson Center is one of Helmut Jahn's best known works in Chicago, but he was a prolific architect who left his mark around the world.

Born in Germany, Jahn made Chicago his home and this is where they are celebrating his legacy.

Jahn's body of work was immense, and he was always working. That remained true up to his death two months ago, in a bicycle crash at the age of 81.

"He always took the time to be a father," his son Evan Jahn said.

Examples of his work are everywhere in the new exhibit at the Chicago Architecture Center. But, more importantly to his son, the exhibit shows his life away from work.

"I love that there's this personal aspect so people can see who he was as a person and what was happening in his personal life," he said.

Other than the Thompson Center, Jahn's best known works include the walkway to the United Terminal at O'Hare airport. But aside from being a prolific, world-renowned architect, Jahn was also a champion sailor with his boat Flash Gordon, a marathon runner, swimmer, and even graced the cover of GQ magazine.

Some VIPs got a peek at the exhibit Thursday afternoon.

"I think it's a nice memorial," said student Dmitri Nesbit. "It's informative. He brought Chicago to the world and changed our cityscape forever."

Even as the city's celebrates Jahn's legacy, they are accepting bids for the Thompson Center property. Architecture Center leaders said it's time for new owners to repurpose the building, and keep the important work standing.