Ante Glibota, Helmut Jahn. Architect, Paris Art Center, Paris 1987
THE ARCHITECT IN CINEMA
Helmut Jahn: In a Flash
Year of production
Helmut Jahn: Life + Architecture, Chicago, Chicago Architecture Center, 23 july / 24 october 2021 28 february 2022
HELMUT JAHN: LIFE + ARCHITECTURE, a career design retrospective of Helmut Jahn’s innovative work that has left an enduring legacy around the world and in his adopted home of Chicago. The exhibit, organized after Jahn’s death in May, include numerous scale models of Jahn’s pathbreaking designs throughout his career.
“Helmut Jahn and Chicago were made for one another,” said Lynn Osmond, President and CEO of the CAC. “Helmut’s larger-than-life persona and his inventive and surprisingly original buildings remade Chicago in the 1980s. His brash designs and relentless pursuit of excellence invigorated Chicago, helping the architectural community move confidently beyond mid-century modernism. Helmut was, in turn, embraced by ‘the city of big shoulders.’”
HELMUT JAHN: LIFE + ARCHITECTURE include personal and professional items generously loaned by Helmut Jahn’s family and firm. Visitors to CAC’s Skyscraper Gallery will see scale models of some of Jahn’s most recent designs, including 1000M (Chicago) and Pritzker Military Archives (Somers, Wisconsin) currently under construction. Visitors will also see scale models of buildings designed at key points in Jahn’s career, including Post Tower (Bonn, 2002), Sony Center (Berlin, 2000) and the James R. Thompson Center (Chicago, 1985). Together, these buildings, represented by scale models in the exhibit, introduce visitors to Jahn’s enduring design legacy.
“Helmut was a great mentor.” said Tom Lee, Principal, Eastman Lee Architects. “He had a profound influence on me and my career and that of so many other architects in the city and around the world.”
The Thompson Center, an example of innovative post-modern design, is in the news as it is currently to be sold by the State of Illinois without protection for its historic design. A nomination to the National Register of Historic Places seeks historic tax credits for incentivizing adaptive reuse, but this process is still ongoing. To support a debate on the future of The Thompson Center, the CAC and the Chicago Architectural Club created the James R. Thompson Center Design Competition that challenges architects to envision a new future for Jahn’s post-modern masterpiece. The winning designs will be exhibited at the CAC in late summer.
“With a burst of shattering, curving and bulging glass in a rainbow of colors, Helmut Jahn danced onto the international architecture scene in the 1980s, translating the discipline of Chicago Modernism into new programs and forms while melting and fragmenting its grids into a post-disco delight of shaped buildings,” said Aaron Betsky, Director of the School of Architecture + Design at Virginia Tech. “We better save the Thompson Center, which is not only one of his greatest designs, but one of the few true celebrations of government as a public good.”