The State of Illinois has selected a buyer for the controversial Thompson Center located at 100 W Randolph Street in The Loop. The building, which opened in 1985, was designed by famed architect Helmut Jahn who designed other influential Chicago structures like Terminal 1 at O’Hare International Airport. The sale represents the end of a multi-year process which began in 2018 under the previous governor.
Built to house the State of Illinois offices and serve as a secondary state capitol in The Loop, the postmodern 17-story building rises 308 feet in height and is clad in multi-color glass and metal panels. Its name originates from Illinois’ longest running governor James R. Thompson, and holds various key places like downtown’s only DMV office and the crucial CTA Clark and Lake station.
Perhaps its most stunning but controversial feature is its massive, 160 foot in diameter rotunda that stretches through 13 floors with a southeast-facing glass wall with views of downtown. However the space has become a nightmare for the state to cool and heat throughout the year, which coupled with the building’s complex design has led it to fall into disrepair with a yearly maintenance cost of $17 million with $325 million in deferred repairs.
Selected from two proposals, the winning bid is that of Michael Reschke of Prime Group who is looking to keep the building and execute a gut-rehab that will redefine its future. The financial breakdown for the sale is as follows:
- 2022 – Estimated date of when the sale of the building will be finalized, $70 million will be paid to the state.
- 2022 – 2024 – Prime Group will embark on a $280 million rehab project on the building.
- 2024 – The state will pay Prime Group $148 million to buy back 427,000 square feet of space on floors two through seven as offices for 1,300 employees.
The state predicts that the sale of the 1.2 million-square-foot building will bring taxpayers a total saving of $800 million over the years, allowing the state to cut overhead costs for their offices without having to relocate.
The new owners have partnered up with Jahn’s architecture firm to redesign the building which at the moment will not include the super-tall skyscraper Jahn himself envisioned to promote saving the property. The new plans will convert the troublesome atrium into an open-air space with a new main entrance to the office component of the structure through a glass structure at the center of the rotunda.
Furthermore the developer will completely replace the existing cladding while preserving the massing of the original design, and introduce new interior curtain walls to fight the energy issues that have plagued the building over the years. Terraces filled with greenery and amenity spaces will be built to attract new tenants to 70,000-square-foot floor plates; there was also a mention for the possible conversion of some of the building into a hotel in the future.
Construction could begin within 12 months if the sale is finalized within the next six months, the state will further review the plan and details will be defined further with organizations like Preservation Chicago wanting to see the new design.