WATCH: Preservationists Rally Around Thompson Center as Pritzker Prepares for Sale on Chicago Tonight

“The James R. Thompson Center is hard to miss. The 17-story, sloping glass structure occupies an entire city block in downtown Chicago.

“Designed by architect Helmut Jahn in the postmodern style, the 1.2-million-square-foot building opened in 1985 as the State of Illinois Center. It houses offices for some 2,200 state employees, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whose suite is on the top floor. Public spaces on its lower levels include a food court, shops and busy Clark-Lake CTA station.

“But the building faces an uncertain future.

“In April, Pritzker signed a bill paving the way for its sale within two years. The governor’s office said the building is too expensive to maintain and repair, citing a 2016 estimate of deferred maintenance costs tallying $326 million.

“In response to the planned sale, three volunteers calling themselves the James R. Thompson Center Historical Society are giving free public tours of the building to provide context on its design features, political history and explore adaptive reuses for the structure.

“The group, composed of architect Jonathon Solomon, architectural historian Elizabeth Blasius and freelance real estate reporter AJ LaTrace, seeks to underscore the building’s value to those who eat at its food court, frequent its shops, utilize its government services and admire its architecture.

“There’s a lot of diversity of opinion about the James R. Thompson Center – a lot of people like it, a lot of people don’t like it,” Solomon said. “We’re less interested in personal opinion about the building and more interested in the ways in which it contributes valuably to public life in the north Loop and city of Chicago.” (Garcia, 11/27/19)

Watch the full story at WTTW Chicago Tonight

Preservationists Rally Around Thompson Center as Pritzker Prepares for Sale, Evan Garcia, WTTW Chicago Tonight, 11/27/19

Additional Reading

The Thompson Center Needs A Lot of Work Before It Can Be Sold, Carrie Shepherd, WBEZ Chicago 91.5, October 25, 2019


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