A Wicker Park Wonder and a Tribute to Helmut Jahn

There is enduring value to a well built building.  My new Wicker Park listing at 1239 N. Wood Street is one of the best examples of this fact in all of Chicago.  The chiseled limestone of the façade and the thick, brick walls are nowhere to be found today.

The beams and the brick and the overall structure have been enhanced even more over the last few years, supporting 5,000 sq ft of roofdeck space.  Strong steel girders are in place, so some lucky owner can put a swimming pool up on top!

Built in 1903, it served as a Jewish orphanage, and later housed the Polish Army Veterans Association and then the Wood Street Gallery.  The back of the building and the huge open space behind it are shown above.  This Historic Wicker Park property is on six lots, 3 are open and 3 support 22,000 sq ft of living space, including two 3,000 sq ft freshly rehabbed duplex condos under rent.  That leaves 16,000 sq ft to be lovingly and creatively designed and built out by the new owner!

Helmut Jahn, who died on May 8th, left his mark on Chicago with over 16 major buildings. In spite of all his contributions, his legacy, good or bad, will be tied most closely to the Thompson Center building shown above.  The outside may not have aged well, but there is real artistry to the interior. I hope it can be preserved.

Much has been written about Helmut, but one of my favorite memories is when the Chicago Film Festival had “An Evening with Helmut Jahn” in 2015, three years after Helmut was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by Chicago’s branch of the American Institute of Architects.  The Film Festival’s Director, Michael Kutza, interviewed Helmut for almost an hour.  Just click on the link to see the interview:  Helmut Jahn Interview.

I enjoy architecture and learning about the sources that have made Chicago one of the greatest architectural cities in the world.  Helmut Jahn was part of an amazing line of creators.  When he came to Chicago in 1966, he studied under Mies Van der Rohe before joining C. F. Murphy and Assoc., which later became Murphy/Jahn.  In the 30s, Mies worked under Frank Lloyd Wright, who worked for Louis Sullivan.  Sullivan, to Wright, to Van der Rohe, to Jahn.  In American architecture, there is no better ‘ancestry’ than that!

Here are just a few of the buildings he is known for around Chicago, One Prudential Plaza, the United Terminal at O’Hare Airport with its beautiful moving walkway, and One South LaSalle.

Helmut and my husband Lucien Lagrange were contemporaries, and he met with Lucien several times.  They actually were in ‘friendly competition’ for Helmut’s last accomplishment, the outstanding design of the 1000M building to be built on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, shown above.  I was privileged to help out in the early stages of development for 1000M and will never forget being in a meeting with Helmut at his offices in Chicago. 

The 1000M building will be a perfect final project for the renowned career of Helmut Jahn.

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