Acclaimed architect Helmut Jahn killed Saturday near St. Charles following crash with two vehicles

Famed architect Helmut Jahn, who designed the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago, was killed Saturday after he failed to stop at a stop sign and was hit by two vehicles.

At approximately 3:29 p.m. Saturday, officers from the Campton Hills Police Department responded to a vehicle crash at Burlington and Old Lafox roads, according to a news release from the Campton Hills Police Department. The crash involved two vehicles as well as a bicycle.

Jahn, of St. Charles, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the release. He was 81.

He was an acclaimed architect and his wife, Deborah Jahn, owns Seven Oaks Farm near St. Charles, which trains and breeds horses. This year, Landmarks Illinois named the James R. Thompson Center one of the most endangered historic places in Illinois.

“The state-owned and neglected 1985, Helmut Jahn-designed building in the heart of Chicago’s Loop is the best-known icon of Post-Modern architecture in Illinois, but it is being prepared for sale as a redevelopment site and should be marketed as a reuse opportunity,” the organization said in announcing this year’s list recently. “This is the fourth year since 2017 that Landmarks Illinois has included this site on its Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.”

The driver of one of the vehicles was transported to Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva with non-life-threatening injuries, the release stated.

Another driver and his passenger were not injured, according to the release. Jahn was riding his bicycle northbound on Old Lafox Road approaching Burlington Road and failed to stop at the posted stop sign, the release stated.

Jahn was struck by Knoll’s vehicle, which was eastbound on Burlington Road, and then Jahn was struck by Palmisano’s vehicle, which was westbound on Burlington Road, according to the release.

The Campton Hills Police Department was assisted by the Kane County Sheriff’s Department, the Kane County Accident Reconstruction Team, Kane County Office of Emergency Management members, the South Elgin Fire Department and the Fox River Countryside Fire District.


Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf covers St. Charles and writes entertainment stories for the Kane County Chronicle.