WIN: Thompson Center Rally Shines Spotlight on National Register Vote (Chicago 7 2016, 2018, 2019 & 2020)

Save the James R. Thompson Center Rally held June 23, 2021. James R. Thompson Center, 1985, Helmut Jahn, 100 W. Randolph Street. Photo Credit: Matthew Kaplan
Save the James R. Thompson Center Rally held June 23, 2021. James R. Thompson Center, 1985, Helmut Jahn, 100 W. Randolph Street. Photo Credit: Matthew Kaplan
Save the James R. Thompson Center Rally held June 23, 2021. James R. Thompson Center, 1985, Helmut Jahn, 100 W. Randolph Street. Photo Credit: Matthew Kaplan

“About two dozen people gathered outside the James R. Thompson Center on Wednesday to protest the state’s ongoing efforts to sell the glassy state office building, which preservation groups call an iconic and integral component to Chicago’s downtown.

“Preservation Chicago and other advocacy groups held the rally in response to what they call recent action by state officials to ‘deliberately sabotage’ the building at 100 W. Randolph St., ahead of an upcoming meeting to decide whether the building receives historical designation, a spokeswoman said.

“‘We’re out here today to save this building that was built for the people by the people of the state of Illinois,’ Preservation Chicago Executive Director Ward Miller said. ‘If this is truly a world-class city of architecture, I think we need to start acting like it and saving these buildings rather than selling them off and encouraging demolition.’

“The protesters picketed with signs reading ‘Do We Dare Squander Chicago’s Great Architecture History’ and ‘The Postmodern People’s Place,’ while chanting, ‘What do we want? Save it.’

“This is one of (Jahn’s) great works,” Preservation Chicago spokeswoman Mary Lu Seidel said. “He supported saving this building, we support saving this building.”

“The preservationists were met with a few counterprotesters who yelled back, ‘tear it down’ and ‘you buy it then.’ Passersby also commented on the building’s deteriorating condition, alleged cockroach infestation, and poor heating and air conditioning systems.

“Jonathan Solomon, co-founder of Preservation Futures, compared its condition to being born in 1985 — the year the building opened — and never showering, eating healthy or going to the doctor’s office.

“‘You’d look pretty bad too,’ Solomon said over the song ‘1985’ by the band Bowling For Soup. ‘That’s what the state of Illinois did to this building. Buildings — just like your body, just like your house or your car — you have to maintain it, you have to look after it, you have to invest in it.’

“Self-described “postmodern person” Rory Gilchrist of Ravenswood said he dressed up as the Thompson Center for Halloween. ‘This is a very significant place of public engagement,’ Gilchrist said. ‘When we stand here today, I feel in solidarity, I feel the history, I feel the memory, I feel the sense of future of all of those other protests that took place here. … That’s why this building must be preserved.'”

Read the full story at the Chicago Tribune

A ‘significant place of public engagement’: Preservationists protest state’s efforts to sell and potentially demolish Thompson Center, Maggie Prosser, Chicago Tribune, 6/23/21

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