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Helmut Jahn: The Latest Architecture and News

23 Buildings You Shouldn’t Miss in Chicago

On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago had roughly 200 inhabitants. Four years later, in 1837, it was upgraded to The City of Chicago – an interesting fact given that there are still 19 incorporated towns in Illinois. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 killed 300 people, destroyed about 3.3 square miles (9 km2), and left more than 100,000 residents homeless. However, by that time Chicago had become the world’s fastest-growing city and its population had risen over 300,000 inhabitants. The fire meant these ambitious citizens had to start again.

© BallPark via Wikimedia Commons © Virginia Duran © Daniel Schwen via Wikimedia Commons © Will Taubert via Wikimedia Commons + 25

With admirable strength, the city was reborn from the ashes and some of Chicago’s best architecture was constructed immediately after. Structures like the Rookery Building (1888, Frank Lloyd Wright), the Auditorium Building (1889, Louis Sullivan) and the Monadnock Building (1893, Burnham & Root, Holabird & Roche) are a few examples of the high standards the city was aiming for.

Since then, Chicago has only continued adding value to its urban grid and new buildings have been progressively enhancing the city’s beautiful skyline. This year Chicago celebrates the 2019-2020 Biennial and the city has plenty to offer. But, where to start?

If you love architecture, here is a list of buildings – old and new – that will help you understand, internalize and love Chicago’s built environment.

Shall we begin?

This Week in Architecture: Awards Season

The dominating news of the week came courtesy of RIBA and IIT, with the two announcing this year’s laureates of the Stirling Prize and Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize, respectively. Foster + Partners were awarded RIBA’s Stirling Prize for their Bloomberg HQ in London. Said jury member Sir David Adjaye, “Bloomberg is a once-in-a-generation project which has pushed the boundaries of research and innovation in architecture.” The project has been a controversial choice, with some citing the tension between the building’s massive price tag and the current UK housing crisis.

"I Prefer When Form Follows Force": an Interview with Helmut Jahn

In the last few years something has happened to architects’ willingness to strive for originality. The boldest visions now often come from the old guard of architecture - and frankly, I enjoy conversations with them much more. The current insistence on having common ground pushed so many younger architects into a zombie-like copycat state of mind. But to me, common ground means not to think alike – then there is space for discourse.

My most recent conversation with Helmut Jahn at his Chicago office is a case in point. “Architecture is all about going with your gut. I prefer when form follows force rather than function,” he told me. His distinguished career has been one of twists and turns, and he is not planning to give up exploring new ideas any time soon. His 1985 quadrant-in-plan Thompson Center reinvented a mundane government typology into a soaring public place, with its curved colored glass facade decisively welcoming a postmodernist period to Chicago (one we thought had finished, but now seems to be ongoing, encompassing all of post-Modern movements as its mere shades and variations.) Jahn’s architecture shook and modernized a number of global cities, and with time and experience, what began as a rebellion against Mies’s “less is more” modus operandi matured into nuanced, measured, though unquestionably gutsy, production of towers, airports, convention centers, headquarters, and, most importantly, public spaces. As Jahn himself says, “...anything you don’t need is a benefit. Not only you have to have less things but with the things you have left you have to do more.”

Courtesy of Helmut Jahn Courtesy of Helmut Jahn Courtesy of Helmut Jahn Courtesy of Helmut Jahn + 27

"I Want to Build Lighter": Francisco Gonzalez Pulido of FGP Atelier

After graduating from Tecnológico de Monterrey, a leading technical school in Mexico, Francisco Gonzalez Pulido worked on design-build projects for six years before leaving for the US where he earned his Master’s degree from Harvard’s GSD in 1999. The same year the architect started working with Helmut Jahn in Chicago where he stayed for 18 years – from intern to becoming the president of the company in 2012, at which point he renamed the firm into Jahn. By then he developed his own body of work there. Last year Gonzalez Pulido started FGP Atelier in his adopted home city.

Today the studio, counts a dozen of architects and is overseeing the design of a couple of high-rises in China, a baseball stadium in Mexico City, and university buildings in Monterrey, among other projects. The following interview was conducted at FGP Atelier in Chicago, during which the architect was explicit about transmitting his view: “Architecture is too rigid, too formal. It is time to break free…I want to build lighter. I want to build smarter.”

ART. Image Courtesy of FGP Atelier Tecnano. Image Courtesy of FGP Atelier DIABLOS. Image Courtesy of FGP Atelier Harmony. Image Courtesy of FGP Atelier + 41

New Images Released of Proposed Skyscraper Addition to Chicago's Thompson Center

Landmarks Illinois has released new images of a proposed radical extension to the James R, Thompson Center in Chicago. The images seek to portray the building’s versatility to be privately redeveloped as a mixed-use hub, featuring an eye-catching “super tower” at the southwest corner of the site, as proposed by the scheme’s original architect Helmut Jahn.

The new images follow on from a previous story we covered last year, detailing a 110-story tower proposed by Jahn in response to local plans to demolish the postmodern building. The latest images underlie a similar goal of demonstrating the potential for the Thompson Center to be protected and expanded, in response to its listing on the Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois in 2017 and 2018. The Postmodernist piece lies in a precarious situation, with an administrative interest in selling the building and replacing it a high-rise development.

Courtesy of visualizedconcepts Courtesy of visualizedconcepts Helmut Jahn's previous proposal for a 110 tower beside the Thompson Center. Image © JAHN. Via Crain's Courtesy of visualizedconcepts + 5

Documentary Hopes to Save Chicago's "Starship," the Thompson Center, from Demolition

In the midst of the tall, rectilinear skyscrapers which make up downtown Chicago appears a short, sloped glass curtain wall, topped by a protruding truncated cylinder structure: Helmut Jahn’s Thompson Center. Opened in 1985, the building was to be home for a variety of agencies of the State of Illinois, and its design was a play off of the traditional American statehouse, updated with glass walls symbolizing government transparency and an immense atrium evoking the atrium spaces found in most United States’ statehouses. The interior spaces, however, stirred further contention with the public. Unconventional red, blue, and white paints coat the interior elements—a design choice many believed to be provocative and even jarring.

New Renderings Revealed for Helmut Jahn's Upcoming 832 Foot Skyscraper in Chicago

Updated renderings have been revealed for renowned architect Helmut Jahn’s 1000M, an upcoming 832-foot skyscraper that will take the place of a currently vacant lot on Chicago’s historic Michigan Avenue. Accommodating 323 luxury residences and over 40,000 square feet of amenities, the building will be clad in a green and blue glass curtainwall, with horizontal metal spandrels running across and dividing it. The roof terrace is covered by a hovering metallic mesh crown, which is shown in the new renderings.

Helmut Jahn-Designed Skyscraper to Rise on Chicago's Historic Michigan Avenue

Renderings have been revealed for a new 832-foot-tall skyscraper that will rise from a current vacant lot on Chicago’s historic Michigan Avenue. Known as 1000M, the tower has been designed by JAHN, the practice helmed by one of Chicago’s most prolific architects, Helmut Jahn. The 74-story building will feature a blue-green glass curtain wall subdivided with metal horizontal spandrel panels, and a metallic mesh crown hovering over a rooftop terrace.

Chicago Announces Controversial Plans to Replace Helmut Jahn’s Thompson Center with 115-Story Skyscraper

Chicago may be about to receive a new supertall skyscraper in the heart of the Loop – but it would require the demolition of one of the city’s most polarizing buildings, the James R. Thompson Center, designed by Chicago architect Helmut Jahn.

Owned by the state, the postmodernist Thompson Center and its colorful glass atrium have been the subject of both criticism and adoration since its opening in 1985. But wear on the building throughout the years has led to an estimated maintenance bill of $326 million, prompting the state government to find ways to rid itself of the potentially crippling costs.

Helmut Jahn's Alternative Proposal. Image © JAHN. Via Crain's 115 story skyscraper that could replace the Thompson Center. Image © Adrian Smith Gordon Gill Architecture. Via Crain's Thompson Center interior. Image © wikimedia user Tripp. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 Thompson Center from the street. Image © wikimedia user Primeromundo. Image released to public domain + 5

Chicago's Overlooked Postmodern Architecture

Postmodern architecture has largely been overlooked in recent years, left behind by current fashion, but not quite old enough to gain the attention of preservationists. Even in the architectural hot spot of Chicago, postmodern buildings tend to go unnoticed in favor of the Miesian towers and Prairie Style houses. ArchDaily’s own feature of notable Chicago buildings was noticeably lacking a postmodern example. To correct this oversight Metropolis Magazine has compiled a collection of Chicago’s most noteworthy examples of Postmodernism.

Chicago Tribune Says 11 "High Caliber" Architects Asked to Submit Qualifications for Obama Library

The University of Chicago's two proposed sites. Image © OPLSouthSide.org
The University of Chicago's two proposed sites. Image © OPLSouthSide.org

Update: The Chicago Tribune's architecture critic Blair Kamin has now reported that 140 architects from 60 cities have expressed their interest in designing the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago by submitting qualifications. Of these, 99 are based in the United States, although names have not been released. The below article, originally published on September 1st, lists 11 architects that Kamin was able to confirm had been invited to submit qualifications by the Barack Obama Foundation.

Last week, it was reported that the Barack Obama Foundation was searching globally for an architect to design Obama's Presidential Library and Museum (officially known as the Barack Obama Presidential Center). With the list of invited candidates for Obama's Presidential Center still a closely-guarded secret, though, the Chicago Tribune's architecture critic Blair Kamin has turned investigator, uncovering a list of 11 firms among the "fifty or more" which are believed to have been invited. Kamin states that the 11 firms he has confirmed to be in the running are "A) Of high caliber; B) Represent a broad geographic and aesthetic spectrum; and C) Include the established firms one would expect to be invited."

Fountainhead Quad City, East Moline's Future Development Along the Mississippi River

Aerial View, Fountainhead Quad Cities; Developer J. Paul Beitler of Beitler Real Estate Services
Aerial View, Fountainhead Quad Cities; Developer J. Paul Beitler of Beitler Real Estate Services

East Moline, Illinois will soon have an all new, highly developed waterfront mixed use area that will include park space, retail and commercial areas and luxury apartments along its Mississippi River front. The $150 million development will be a host to 300 apartment units, senior citizen housing, condominiums, storage facilities, a sports recreational center, medical facilities and a variety of amenities that includes neighborhood retail shops, food courts, banks, pharmacies and restaurants, hotels and a central park with will include a band shell. At over 3.5 million square feet, Fountainhead Quad Cities, developed by Beitler Real Estate Services with James DeStefano of LVD Architecture as the master planner, will bring new residents to the area while attracting the thousands of motorists that pass through the region today.

More after the break.

Helmut Jahn receives AIA Chicago's Lifetime Achievement Award

German-American architect Helmut Jahn of Murphy/Jahn Architects has been announced as this year’s recipient of Chicago’s AIA Lifetime Achievement Award. Following his arrival to the U.S. more than 40 years ago, the Chicago-based architect has been lauded by some of the industry’s best for continuously breaking new ground with his postmodern steel-and-glass structures. Some of his most notable works include the SONY Center in Berlin and the University of Chicago Campus.

The film above, shared with us by our friends at Black Spectacles, captures the essence of Helmut Jahn’s work through images, videos and peer interviews with Jeanne Gang, FAIA, John Ronan, AIA, Ron Krueck, AIA, Werner Sobek and Franz Schulze.

The news of this award was followed by Jahn’s announcement that he will be changing the name of his firm to “Jahn”. Browse through some of Jahn’s most recent works, here on ArchDaily.