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Famed German architect Helmut Jahn dies in Illinois bicycle accident at 81

Jahn was struck by two cars while riding his bike about 60 miles west of Chicago.
Helmut Jahn attends a press conference at the Messeturm, which he designed, in Frankfurt, Germany, on July 30, 2019.
Helmut Jahn at a news conference at the Messeturm, which he designed, in Frankfurt, Germany, on July 30, 2019.Frank Rumpenhorst / picture alliance via Getty Images file

The famed German architect Helmut Jahn died Saturday after being struck by two vehicles as he was riding his bicycle. He was 81.

Jahn was biking in Campton Hills, about 60 miles west of Chicago, when he was killed, police said. Police said he was hit by two vehicles going in opposite directions after he failed to stop at an intersection, but details about the incident remain unconfirmed.

One of the drivers left the scene unharmed, and another was treated for an unspecified non-life-threatening injury. Police did not name the two other people involved in the incident.

Jahn was famous in Chicago and around the world for his innovative postmodern architecture.

He designed one of the most controversial buildings in the Windy City, the James R. Thompson Building, used for government offices. It was recently put up for sale by the state, which said it had become a financial drain.

He was also responsible for the famous colorful walkway in the United Airlines terminal of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was among the chorus who offered their condolences to Jahn's family.

"Jahn was one of the most inventive Chicago architects whose impact on the city — from the skyline to the O'Hare tunnel — will never be forgotten," she wrote on Twitter.

The Illinois chapter of the American Institute of Architects, or AIA, said on Twitter: "Our AIA community was hit hard over the weekend with the tragic death of one of our longtime, famed members, Helmet Jahn. We are deeply saddened at the loss of one of Chicago's true talents and thinking of his family and friends during this difficult time.

A profile posted on his firm's website says Jahn was born in Germany in 1940 and graduated from Technische Hochschule in Munich. He moved to Chicago in 1966 to study under the legendary architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a creator of modernist architecture, at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Jahn's professional career began in 1967 when he joined CF Murphy Associates, which later became Murphy/Jahn. He worked on several major projects in the U.S. aside from the Thompson Building and the United Airlines terminal, including Chicago's McCormick Place and the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C., the FBI headquarters.

Jahn's work internationally includes the Sony Center in Berlin and Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.

Jahn taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Harvard University, Yale University and the Illinois Institute of Technology.