Running time: 28 minutes
Helmut Jahn was born in Germany, trained in architecture at the Technische Hochschule Munich between 1960 - 1965, and continued to work in that city until 1966 when he moved to the USA. There he trained for a short while at IIT, Chicago, under Myron Goldsmith (see The Visual Solution) and Fazlur Khan, before starting work with C. F. Murphy & Associates under Gene Summers.
Since 1973 he has been Partner and Executive Vice President. In 1977 he joined the Chicago Seven Group. One of the moving lights of Chicago, he has received many awards and honours and has become internationally famous for the new life he has injected into the design of the skyscraper. Having started as a believer in functionalism, he has steadily moved away from the strictly Miesian character of the Murphy work.
Of his recent buildings, he says in his talk that the functional, programmatic and technical aspects have very little influence on their appearance. The buildings deal with image. They synthesise an approach from abstract geometric forms to historic archetypal forms, to Art Deco, forms that echo the joyful symbolism of early skyscrapers like Chicago's Tribune Tower and Wrigley building.
Though the buildings have a formal order and a connection to history, there's a re-thinking of the distribution of interior space, so that atriums and other amenities not in the brief come out of the design process, there's an innovative use of technology and there's a social and civic impact on the spaces in and around.
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