An Egyptian obelisk-style skyscraper in the colors of the sky on a bright, clear day rises up to the clouds making a sleek, elegant architectural statement rising in an urban landscape. It is approached from a distance along a tree-line driveway enhancing the perspective of building as I move closer. The post modern skyscraper is built of azure blue glass and silver white steel with a main entrance on the east side facing the rising sun.
Oakbrook Terrace Tower
I’ve toured other buildings by this architect and wanted to see this one. The Oakbrook Terrace Tower, in Illinois, as it is called, is positioned next to intersecting traffic expressways, which makes me recall the Washington Monument. Perhaps America’s most famous obelisk-style structure in white marble, 555 feet tall positioned at intersecting lines radiating in D.C. on the south and west. Architecture is a structured art that melds creativity and science; and where classical designs of ancient civilizations are re-interpreted through global generations.
I see the influence of ancient Egypt in this glass and steel skyscraper. Designed by the acclaimed architect Helmut Jahn rising 31 stories into the sky and at 792, 192 square feet it is the tallest structure in Illinois outside of Chicago. From a distance the tower appears as simple square glass panels and steel. Beautiful design elements are revealed when I arrive at the building.
This is classic Jahn. His buildings are in a variety of geometric shapes of glass panels and steel. When I stand directly next to the exterior and walk through the interior, I notice curves, edges in the steel and abstract style patterns on it and many other elements. And, there is a band of green steel between the white steel and edging the blue. These features can only be viewed when I stand close it or walk through it.
Another Jahn stylistic innovation is his use of the sun and sunlight as an element in his design. There is interplay in scenic reflections in the glass and steel of trees and tall sand-colored grass that I see as I walk around the Oakbrook Terrace Tower. The site was landscaped with the placement of trees and grass to create this interplay of the structure with the natural elements.
His buildings use this interplay of light and their urban surroundings to reflect and enhance the experience of visitors to the buildings. Jahn wants people to experience his buildings in varied ways; and they are always originally conceived and never copies of a prior one.
Helmut Jahn, born in Nuremberg, Germany in 1940, trained at the Technische Hochschule in Munich and then emigrated to the U.S. and studied with famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). It’s at IIT where Jahn’s connection to the Midwest began and flourished. Jahn’s architectural influence is apparent in Illinois and throughout the Midwest in the State of Illinois Building and Joe and Rika Mansueto Library in Chicago, and Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri, and around the world as in the Sony Center Potsdamer Platz in Berlin.
His innovative designs of light-filled urban habitats and offices awe and inspire; and in 1991 he was voted one of the Ten Most Influential Living American Architects by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
If you’re interested in reading and viewing more photos and posts on architecture around the world, visit Jake’s Sunday Post: Architecture.
I’m offering images of the building in both color and black and white to you:
Links to information on Jahn and his designs: