Once one of Chicago’s most controversial building projects, the State of Illinois building/James R. Thompson Center is also one of our City’s most iconic 1980s buildings. The State of Illinois building was one of architect Helmut Jahn’s most significant public buildings at the time, and a bold idea in its design to represent the State of Illinois. The public space of the 17-story skylight and public atrium is nothing less than spectacular.
Recently Governor Rauner was heavily quoted in the press saying he’d like to sell the building and that demolition costs would be minimal. Preservation Chicago believes that this building – including the Jean Dubuffet sculpture in its plaza and soaring central atrium – were built by and for the people of the State of Illinois and therefore should remain standing and accessible to the public. We argue that the City of Chicago should move quickly to Landmark and protect this building and plaza, designed by one of the city’s most famous contemporary architects, whose career began here and whose work is now seen around the world from Chicago to Shanghai.