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Helmut Jahn



(b. Nuremberg, Germany 1940)

Helmut Jahn was born in Nuremberg in 1940. From 1960 to 1965 he trained at the Technische Hochschule in Munich, after which he emigrated to the U.S. where he spent a year at the Illinois Institute of Technology studying under Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In 1967 he joined the office of C.F. Murphy Associates and six years later became partner and Director of Design. The practice was renamed Murphy/Jahn in 1981.

During the 1960s the firm designed some of the more distinguished buildings in Chicago using a vocabulary of Miesian geometry. In later works Jahn's rigid adherence to pure Modernist doctrine lessened as he began to embrace an architectural philosophy which stressed the intuitive nature of creative rationalism. This shift led to a more flexible approach to design and signalled a decisive break with the unchallenged ideology of the Modernist past.

Using a "variable, wide-ranging architectural language" to describe a buildings' contextual relationship, Jahn generated a symbolic code which could be appreciated by both professional architects and the general public.

Dennis Sharp. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Architects and Architecture. New York: Quatro Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0-8230-2539-X. NA40.I45. p81.

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