Helmut Jahn is NOT a fan of winning design for O’Hare Airport expansion

The famed architect said the choice of Studio Gang to lead the project is “not justified by design or experience”

Chicago /
Mar.March 31, 2019 04:00 PM

O’Hare Airport expansion design proposed by the team led by Jeanne Gang overlay with note from Helmut Jahn, far right (Credit: Chicago Architecture Center, Twitter)

A team of architecture firms led by Chicago-based Studio Gang might be city officials’ choice to design a massive expansion of O’Hare Airport, but it’s hardly Helmut Jahn’s pick to do the job.

A day after the choice was announced, the accomplished architect sent a handwritten note to Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin, blasting the choice. Kamin posted the note on Twitter, sharing Jahn’s disdain for the decision with the whole world, according to Curbed.

The note, written in pink ink, said “I am embarrassed that some of my most respected colleagues have been misused to placate a premeditated decision, not justified by design or experience. Such attitude has not made Chicago a capitol [sic] of world architecture. Hopefully, the next mayor will turn this around.”

Studio Gang’s team was chosen from a field of five finalists in a process some critics said lacked transparency. Milhouse Engineering and Construction, Corgan, Solomon Cordwell Buenz and STL Architects are part of the group led by Jeanne Gang’s firm. Their design came in third place on two separate questions that asked respondents to rank the five finalists, according to Curbed.

Jahn is best known locally as the designer of the Thompson Center, which has endured its own share of criticism and which the state is trying to sell to make way for redevelopment. He also designed the planned 1000M condo tower at 1000 South Michigan Avenue. [Curbed] — John O’Brien


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