Chicago | James R. Thompson Center | 308 FT | 17 FLOORS

You can find awesome architecture in lots of small buildings, and this one was done by my favorite architect that designed Liberty Place in Philly, Helmut Jahn. I’m always mainly focused on tall skyscrapers, but little buildings like Solar Curve stun me.

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I absolutely love this building and would hate to see it go.

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Okay??? Nobody was talking about it going anywhere, in fact it’s the opposite. It’s staying and being filled by a large tenant.

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There’s no reason for you to get hostile about this.

I wasn’t

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I’ve wanted to meet Helmut for a very long time, and it’s weird that when my interest of Liberty Place was in one of the highest peaks he suddenly died. To me it would be an honor to meet Evan just as much as Helmut. I didn’t even know he has a son! But good luck homie

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This has to be a partial demolition, not a complete one right?

Yeah, it’s probably refering to a gut demo to clear floors, remove unneeded walls, etc. All possible renders just show a possible updated facade and the removal or painting of the building’s colorful aspects.

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I love that the building is being saved, though I had wished something 1,700 ft had gone forward here with the center as the base.

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Google does hold a pretty significant presence in Chicago currently, maybe one day in the future they will add a tower to this spot! That design is really outstanding and it couldn’t be a better location for a supertall.

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Architectural models and drawings of the State of Illinois Center by Helmut Jahn 1981.


Ground floor plan

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Per: The Thompson Center in Chicago proudly showcases its structure and mechanical equipment rather than hiding it. — Elevator Scene | Cab Interior Design, Modernizations & More

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Per: Weekend Interview: Evan Jahn On Jahn Without Helmut

Bisnow: What project under design by your firm right now are you most excited about?

Jahn: I don’t think [it’s] any secret that there’s a lot of interest and passion in this office for the James R. Thompson Center. I got the opportunity to work on not just such a pivotal piece of architecture in the Loop in Chicago, but now with Google’s involvement, it obviously takes on a whole other degree of impact for the city. And obviously, it has a still really big relationship to the legacy of design that Helmut had at that building. It’s also a building with unique form that just has so much potential for creating unique space. And that’s really what’s so exciting about that project is that there’s all this opportunity for different types of access and utilization and vibrancy brought into the downtown business district to make it an exemplary project for how big, design-focused projects can have such a big impact on the financial viability and stability of downtown areas.

Bisnow: So Google bought the Thompson Center last summer, they said that you guys were going to revamp it, Prime Group was going to do some revitalization of the building, and then they were going to take occupancy in 2026. And then in January, Google announced 12,000 layoffs. Is that project still on track? Or have there been any changes with all that movement?

Jahn: No, the project’s still moving forward. I think that Google still has every intention on occupying the building. It just brings more of a microscope on not just this project, but what Google’s doing on all their real estate improvements and projects, and being very diligent with where they’re spending their money. And so does it change the environment from maybe what we would have seen two years ago or even further before that? Yeah. Probably. In the end, it’s putting more emphasis on making sure that the design and the performance of the building really align and are shown as real paybacks for those investments.

Bisnow: Where does that project stand right now?

Jahn: There are different areas of building that are in different phases. But overall, I’d say we’re probably close to an end of schematic design on it.

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