James R. Thompson Center Information (Geography)

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James R. Thompson Center
James R. Thompson Center, Chicago, Illinois (9179428785).jpg
Front façade looking northwest.
James R. Thompson Center is located in Chicago metropolitan area
James R. Thompson Center
James R. Thompson Center is located in Illinois
James R. Thompson Center
James R. Thompson Center is located in the United States
James R. Thompson Center
General information
Architectural style Postmodern
Town or city Loop district, Chicago, Illinois
Country United States
Coordinates 41°53′07″N 87°37′54″W / 41.88528°N 87.63167°W / 41.88528; -87.63167
JAMES R. THOMPSON CENTER Latitude and Longitude:

41°53′07″N 87°37′54″W / 41.88528°N 87.63167°W / 41.88528; -87.63167
CompletedMay, 1985
Client Illinois state government
Technical details
Floor count17
Design and construction
Architect Helmut Jahn

The James R. Thompson Center (JRTC); originally the State of Illinois Center; is located at 100 W. Randolph Street in the Loop district of Chicago and houses offices of the Illinois state government. The building serves as a secondary capitol for the State of Illinois in the most populated city and county of the state. It is considered one of the most significant postmodern buildings in the city of Chicago. [1]


Site History

The location was previously the location of the Sherman House Hotel operated by Ernie Byfield. [2] The hotel was demolished in 1973 and the site was used as a parking lot until the Thompson Center was constructed.

State of Illinois Center

The building opened in May 1985 as the State of Illinois Center. It was renamed in 1993 to honor former Illinois Republican Governor James R. Thompson (the former name remains in use interchangeably, along with the "State of Illinois Building"). The property takes up the entire block bound by Randolph, Lake, Clark and LaSalle Streets, one of the 35 full-size city blocks within Chicago's Loop. In front of the Thompson Center is a 1984 sculpture, Monument With Standing Beast, by Jean Dubuffet.

On February 13, 2018, Chicago Police Commander Paul Bauer was shot and killed, allegedly by Shomari Legghette, while Bauer was in pursuit of the suspect down a stairwell of the Thompson Center. [3] [4]

Atrium of the James R. Thompson Center
Thompson Center behind City Hall (from the Daley Center)


The Thompson Center was designed by Helmut Jahn of Murphy/Jahn now called JAHN Architects. It opened to mixed reviews by critics, ranging from "outrageous" to "wonderful". The color of the street-level panels were compared to tomato soup. The 17-story, all-glass exterior curves and slopes facing a plaza on the southeast corner of the property. The design simultaneously looks forward with advanced architectural tectonics (of the time) and back to recapture the grandeur of large public spaces. Visitors to the Thompson Center's interior can see all 17 floors layered partway around the building's immense skylit atrium. The open-plan offices on each floor are supposed to carry the message of "an open government in action."[ citation needed]

Originally, the design called for curved, insulated (double paned) glass panels, but these were found to be prohibitively expensive. Flat, insulated glass had been suggested, but was dismissed by Jahn. Single-paned (non-insulated), curved glass panels were eventually used, and resulted in the need for a more expensive air conditioning system, which remains very costly to operate, and is insufficient on hot days; internal temperatures have reached as high as 90 °F (32 °C). [5] The building is also bitterly cold in the winter; in its early years, ice formed on the interior of some of the wall panels. The marble floor of the atrium initially developed unsightly water stains, an issue which has since been resolved.

Nearby transportation

The Clark/Lake 'L' station, the second busiest in the system, is housed between the Thompson Center and the 203 N. LaSalle building across the street. Orange, Green, Blue, Pink, Purple and Brown Line trains stop at the center. Three tunnels of the Chicago Pedway enter the building's food-court concourse, connecting from to 203 North LaSalle Street, the Chicago Title and Trust Company and Chicago City Hall.


The sculpture at the front entrance by French artist Jean Dubuffet [6] sets the tone for this building that houses a tremendous art collection. The collection includes nineteen specially commissioned artworks funded by the State of Illinois Art-in-Architecture Program. [7] The building also has over 150 of the state's 600 works collected under the Percent for Art program. Under this program 0.5% of the money designated for construction of state-funded public buildings is used for the purchase of art. [8] The Illinois Artisan's shop is also housed inside the building.

Proposed sale

When he first came to office, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich proposed selling the building to assuage the state budget. [9] The proposal was heavily criticized. [9] Lawmakers at first agreed to the plan, [10] but later a $200 million mortgage was agreed to instead, payable over 10 years. [11] The plan was declared unconstitutional by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in June 2004. [12] The plan was set aside, although it had already cost the state $532,000 in legal fees. [13]

In 2015, [14] and again in 2017, [15] Governor Bruce Rauner also proposed selling the property, and a legislative committee to explore his request was announced by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan in February 2017.

In 2019, Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker signed a bill to begin the sale of the Thompson Center, with a proposed three-year timeline to find a buyer. This has sparked activism from preservationists and architects concerned about the future of the building. [1]


In popular culture

The Thompson Center has been a filming location in several motion pictures, including 2000's The Watcher and 1990's The Kid Who Loved Christmas. The climax of 1986's Running Scared was filmed there.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Thompson Center - Preservation Chicago". Retrieved 2020-01-10.
  2. ^ "Sherman House Hotel - WTTW Chicago Public Media - Television and Interactive". wttw.com. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Chicago police commander gunned down in Loop while pursuing a suspect". Chicago Tribune. February 13, 2018. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  4. ^ "Felon Wearing Body Armor 'Executed' Chicago Police Cmdr. After Struggle in Thompson Center Stairwell". NBC. February 14, 2018. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  5. ^ "Repeat Writings on Architecture: Helmut Jahn returns to IIT". lynnbecker.com. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Pictorial Chicago". brainsnack.net. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Monument with Standing Beast". Retrieved 2007-06-06.
  8. ^ "Permanent Art Collection". Illinois Department of Central Management Services. 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-06.
  9. ^ a b Ramsey, Mike (2007-10-09). "Durbin cautions of gaming effects". Peoria Journal Star. Archived from the original on 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2008-11-09.
  10. ^ Patterson, John (2003-11-21). "A Thompson Center teardown? Potential buyers of office center in Chicago want to demolish the building". Arlington Heights Daily Herald. Retrieved 2008-11-09.
  11. ^ "Senate GOP leader criticizes mortgaging of Thompson Center". Chicago Sun-Times. 2004-02-14. Archived from the original on 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2008-11-09.
  12. ^ "Illinois Governor Attacks Attorney General over Objection to Center Mortgage". Chicago Tribune. 2004-06-04. Archived from the original on 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2008-11-09.
  13. ^ McKinney, Dave; Chris Fusco (2004-08-27). "Thompson Center plan cost state $532,000: Blagojevich has no regrets about failed mortgage effort". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2008-11-09.
  14. ^ "Gov. Rauner Puts Thompson Center Up for Sale | Chicago Tonight | WTTW". Chicagotonight.wttw.com. 2017-08-21. Retrieved 2017-11-18.
  15. ^ [1][ dead link]
  16. ^ Home page. Illinois Court of Claims. Retrieved on March 26, 2014.
  17. ^ Home page[ permanent dead link]. Illinois House Republican Staff.
  18. ^ Home page Archived 2014-02-09 at the Wayback Machine. Illinois State Board of Education. Retrieved on March 23, 2009.

External links