Gov. Rauner Calls For Selling The Thompson Center In Chicago

Oct 13, 2015

Credit flickr/vincentdesjardis

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner wants to sell the state's office space in the heart of downtown Chicago. That could mean the demise of the iconic, 1985 structure known as the Thompson Center.

With its all-glass, sloped exterior and lattice of red, steel beams inside, the 17-story building stands out from the skyscrapers around it; it's almost as if a spaceship - the size of a city block -- landed in The Loop. Some hail it as an architectural gem; others an eyesore rife with structural faults from the onset.

Gov. Bruce Rauner won't say where he stands.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, again I'm not going to comment on the appearance or the aesthetics," he said. 

But he says the Thompson Center, which houses some 2000 state workers, is inefficient.

"It's hard to move through the building. Very, very ineffective. Noise from downstairs, smells from the food court all get into the offices," he added. 

Rauner says he wants to sell it at public auction, and so he won't share its appraised value. One expert estimated value above $300 million.

Rauner said he expects a developer will tear it down. He says state workers would be moved, and the state could save money.

The architect of the Thompson Center says the best way to improve the 30-year-old state government building is to repurpose it.  Helmut Jahn, in a statement, says that the building hasn't been maintained or repaired.

He says the original vision for the glass-paneled building was to be a symbol for the ``openness and transparency'' of state government. Jahn says its downtown location is enticing and it can become a 21st century landmark.