“The James R. Thompson Center office building on Randolph Street, making its fourth appearance as Gov. J.B. Pritzker becomes the second Illinois governor to plan selling off the colorful, love-it-or-hate-it postmodern structure designed by Helmut Jahn.
“Preservation Chicago isn’t seeking to block the state from selling the building. “We understand the financial pressures that our legislature is working under,” the group’s statement says. It’s pushing for “the state to require the next owner to maintain the building’s character” via some sort of reuse or addition, instead of demolition.
“Jackson Park and the South Shore Cultural Center, also making the list for the fourth time as the proposed Obama Presidential Center and a Tiger Woods-directed redesign of two park golf courses proceed slowly.
“Preservation Chicago advocates for building the Obama center on a different site rather than one made historic as part of the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. The golf project, it suggests, should retain the two courses and rehab them but build the envisioned PGA-quality new course on the long-vacant former U.S. Steel Southworks site on the lakefront in South Chicago.
“In McKinley Park, brick industrial buildings run along the south rim of Pershing Road for half a mile, peppered with terra cotta logos and trim. They’re reminders of Chicago’s central role in the nation’s industrial might during the 20th century. They once housed as many as 200 companies, including some Chicago powerhouses, like Wrigley, Spiegel, Standard Brands (a predecessor of Nabisco), and later, Ronco, creator of the Veg-o-matic food chopper and other gadgets seen in countless TV commercials.
“Recent threats to the district include the opening of a highly polluting asphalt plant in 2018 and the stripping off and replacement of one building’s historical facade in 2019. Preservation Chicago encourages landmarking the entire district as prevention against further degradation of the historical character.
“Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Invest South West initiative to shore up some of the city’s rundown commercial areas could make a difference here, the preservation group says, and the time is right: Tourism is likely to increase in Pullman, east of this district, as improvements in that National Landmark neighborhood gather steam.