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Home / WORLD / German architect Helmut Jahn, designer of airports from Chicago to Bangkok and Berlin’s Sony Center, killed in bike accident

German architect Helmut Jahn, designer of airports from Chicago to Bangkok and Berlin’s Sony Center, killed in bike accident

Jahn reportedly was riding a bike on Saturday afternoon in Campton Hills, Illinois, located about 50 miles west of Chicago, when he was struck by two cars going in opposite directions. Police said the bicyclist failed to stop at a stop sign before being struck in an intersection. Jahn, who was a resident of neighboring St. Charles, Illinois, was pronounced dead at the scene.

One Liberty Place in Philadelphia. ©  Wikipedia

After finishing his studies at Technische Hochschule in Munich, Jahn came to Chicago in 1966 to study under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, one of the creators of postmodernist architecture. 

The interior of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library. ©  Wikipedia

Jahn’s major projects in Chicago included Citigroup Center, the United Airlines Terminal at O’Hare International Airport, the Mansueto Library and the James R. Thompson Center government office building. He also designed One Liberty Place in Philadelphia.

James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. ©  Global Look Press / Michael Weber /

Jahn also made his mark in his home country, where he designed Berlin’s dramatic Sony Center, Neues Kranzler Eck, the MesseTurm in Frankfurt, ThyssenKrupp Test Tower in Rottweil and Galeria Kaufhof in Chemnitz. He also was chosen to design corporate headquarters for Bayer and Sign Dusseldorf, as well as the Highlight Towers in Munich.

Thyssenkrupp’s elevator test tower in Rottweil, Germany © REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Other signature projects included the glass exterior of the European Commission’s Charlemagne building in Brussels, CitySpire in New York, Cosmopolitan Tower in Warsaw, VEER Towers in Las Vegas and Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. Jahn also designed major airport projects in Cologne and Munich, as well as redevelopment of Tokyo’s main train station.

The Charlemagne building in the European Quarter of Brussels. ©  Wikipedia

Chicago architecture critic Blair Kamin said the prolific and influential Jahn was a “dashing star” of his profession. “He was on the cover of GQ,” Kamin told the Chicago Tribune.

Cosmopolitan Tower in Warsaw ©; Veer Towers at the Strip of Las Vegas © Global Look Press / Egmont Strigl /

“He was renowned as much for his persona as for his architecture, but his architecture was always exceptional. And, as time went on, he was regarded as less of a ‘Flash Gordon’ character and more of a modernist master,” Kamin said.

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