The iconic postmodern Thompson Center in the heart of Chicago’s Loop will be sold either for demolition or adaptive reuse.
It was built for the people of Illinois, by the people of Illinois, to inspire the people of Illinois. Designed by world-renowned architect Helmut Jahn to be Illinois’ “second state capitol building” in the state’s largest city, it sought to redefine the relationship between the citizens and their government with transparency, engagement, and energy.
Jahn’s wildly exuberant James R. Thompson Center / State of Illinois building exceeded all expectations with a curvilinear façade, open plaza, and dazzling 17-story atrium designed to exhilarate and inspire.
Will this magnificent public building be demolished for a new non-descript high-rise? Or will a new owner finally realize the Governor Thompson’s vision of a dynamic creative center overflowing with vibrancy and energy?
Live music, dance, arts and city festivals could be hosted daily on the plaza and year-round in the atrium, similar to the wildly successful Sony Center in Berlin also designed by Helmut Jahn.
Designated offices floors could become incubator for non-profits, arts organizations, start-up businesses, exhibit and gallery space. Other floors could be populated with a hotel, apartments and small businesses. A gourmet food court and café dining in the atrium could create a dynamic piazza experience protected from the elements. All located at a major transit hub that would allow equal access to Chicagoans all across the city.
Now is the moment in time to finally embrace the vision of the James R. Thompson Center as vibrant, authentic, fountain of creative energy in the heart of Chicago’s Loop.
Along with a diverse team of preservation partners, we urge the City of Chicago to recognize the potential of this important building and designate the James R. Thompson Center as a Chicago Landmark to protect it from harm and encourage its creative reuse.
Sign the Petition to Save the James R. Thompson Center!
State v. Jahn: The Thompson Center is dead, long live the Thompson Center, F. Philip Barash, NewCity Design, 5/4/21
Op-ed: The Thompson Center: a retrospective from the future, Joseph Altshuler, Chicago Tribune, 6/4/21