Chicago Architecture Center Announces HELMUT JAHN: LIFE + ARCHITECTURE
A Design Retrospective Opening July 23 in CAC’s Skyscraper Gallery
New exhibit part of an international outpouring of appreciation for Jahn’s design legacy following his death in May
The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) announces 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, will include numerous scale models of Jahn’s pathbreaking designs throughout his career. HELMUT JAHN: LIFE + ARCHITECTURE opens on July 23 and runs through October.
“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 will 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.”
HELMUT JAHN: LIFE + ARCHITECTURE caps the CAC’s 2021 reopening with all-new and updated exhibits in its 10,000 square feet of galleries. The Chicago Gallery, home to the Chicago City Model Experience, is completely overhauled with new displays on Current Chicago Projects, Chicago’s neighborhoods and the new exhibit, Housing for a Changing Nation.
The CAC’s spring 2021 reopening began with the April launch of new CAC Walking Tours and the Chicago Architecture Foundation Center (CAFC) River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady. Both walking tours and the river cruise have been popular options for Chicagoans and visitors eager to rediscover the beauty and inspiration of Chicago architecture.
For updates on offerings visit the official website.
About the Chicago Architecture Center
The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1966, dedicated to inspiring people to discover why design matters. A national leader in architecture and design education, the CAC offers tours, programs, exhibitions and more that are part of a dynamic journey of lifelong learning.
Opened to the public in 2018, its riverfront location is in the heart of the city, where Michigan Avenue meets the Chicago River, featuring nearly 10,000 square feet of exhibition space with views of a century of iconic skyscrapers.
Through partnerships with schools and youth-serving organizations, the CAC reaches approximately 30,000 K–12 students annually, while teacher workshops provide educators with tools and resources they need to advance STEM curricula in their classrooms. Committed to serving under-represented communities in construction, engineering and design professions, the CAC offers many of its education programs—and all of its programs for teens—at no cost to participants.
CAC programs for adults and members include talks with acclaimed authors and practicing architects, in-depth presentations on issues and trends in urbanism, and classes unlocking subjects related to the built environment
Proceeds from programs, tours and the CAC Design Store, as well as from grants, sponsorships and donations, support its educational mission. Visit architecture.org to learn more and follow Chicago Architecture Center’s Instagram and #chiarchitecture on social media.