Thompson Center redesign proposal includes ‘super tower’

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Adding a tower at the southwestern corner preserves the dramatic, public atrium while providing cash flow to underwrite Thompson Center’s revitalization. As proposed by Thompson Center architect, Helmut Jahn, last year, the super tower could accommodate residential and hotel uses. | visualizedconcepts

A nonprofit keen on saving the James R. Thompson Center from demolition has proposed a redesign of the building that features a “super tower” for residential and hotel uses.

Landmarks Illinois, a nonprofit that tries to save “endangered” buildings, said the building is locally significant for being the city’s best example of grand-scaled, postmodern architecture. The Thompson Center has made the nonprofit’s list of Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois two years in a row.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has tried to sell the Thompson Center, saying that the building needs an estimated $326 million in deferred maintenance.

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel blocked the sale, claiming the building’s busy Clark/Lake CTA station would cost $100 million to rebuild. Landmarks Illinois’ proposal would leave the CTA station intact.

In addition to new retail and office space, the proposal would turn the Thompson Center into a public space by removing the two-story entrance bays to create indoor-outdoor flow.

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