Thompson Center Renovation Receives First Permit in The Loop

Previous renderings of the Thompson Center redevelopment by JAHN Architects

The first demolition permit has been issued for the massive renovation of the 17-story Thompson Center, located at 100 W Randolph Street in The Loop. This permit will facilitate the removal of non-structural interior and exterior elements, costing $6 million for this current phase.

Previous renderings of the Thompson Center redevelopment by Jahn/

Originally constructed in 1985, the Thompson Center was designed by the late Helmut Jahn, one of the original “Chicago Seven” architects known for bold postmodern designs. The Prime Group initially took ownership of the Thompson Center last year for $70 million. Subsequently, Google acquired the property for a sum of $105 million, and plans to move 1,800 employees to the complex. The facility will serve as the company’s second headquarters in the city, following its establishment in Fulton Market, where it acted as a partial catalyst for the neighborhood’s recent development boom.

Current view of enclosed atrium at Thompson Center by Ian Achong

Previous renderings of the Thompson Center redevelopment by Jahn/

While initial plans hinted at reselling a portion of the building to the state after its renovation, Google now aims to utilize the majority of its approximately 1.2 million square-foot space. Helmut Jahn’s firm, Jahn/, is behind for the updated design. Renderings of the re-skinned exterior show the integration of metal, glass, planted terraces, as well a new enclosure for the office floors facing the inner atrium. The anticipated construction cost for this transformation is $280 million.

Previous renderings of the Thompson Center redevelopment by Jahn/

As the redevelopment progresses, The Prime Group continues to manage the project. Additionally, the Jean Dubuffet’s “Monument with Standing Beast” is undergoing conservation and is soon to be relocated to the Art Institute. Clark Construction is the general contractor, with an anticipated completion for the renovation by 2026.

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36 Comments on "Thompson Center Renovation Receives First Permit in The Loop"

  1. Please don’t ruin it

  2. How does one ruin a turd?

  3. In any other city this news would be greeted with much optimism and enthusiasm. Probably 5000 well compensated, skilled workers added to the moribund central loop as the city seeks to renew it. To date this does not seem to be registering with the business and Real Estate communities, another symptom of the extreme negativism afflicting the City.

    • Making a generalized statement like this really shows your own personal emotions and not a reflection of reality.

      Trust me, it’s going to be ok.

    • I think that’s a sweeping generalization Brian and I agree with what Razorback said. Sure, Chicago could use a string of positive news, but what large city in the US wouldn’t? NYC no longer seems so optimistic all the time like it might have before the pandemic. City culture ebbs and flows over time. Chicago has has several eras already of super positive, optimistic growth, and it’s had the opposite too. It *will* be ok.

    • I think part of it is politics. I’m not sure the current mayor wants to emphasize a win for the prior mayor. But, yes, this is a major win for Chicago, one that really can’t be understated. We should be celebrating this more. Aside from the jobs and spillover effects, this has the potential to modernize a historic, but currently untenable building.

    • This had the potential to be 2000 ft juggernaut. But instead Chicago settled for a google back office. It represents Chicago’s mediocrity.

      • You are completely out of touch with even the basics of reality if you think a 2K footer was going here. So out of touch with reality that I think it warrants going outside and laying in the grass for a couple of hours.

        • Resorting to name calling is petty. The reality is that Governor Rauner identified numerous developers willing to build to 2000 ft on the site. Preservationist vociferously opposed, so Chicago is stuck with this mediocre and dated building.

          • No name calling, agreed.

            But Jim is right: a 2000 ft building is heinously expensive to build, and the office market is not vigorous enough to absorb it, and as for residential, it’s not a location that would support fearsomely expensive apartments, nor is the new apartment market buoyant enough to support supernal construction.

  4. Could be a catalyst for live/work in the LaSalle corridor and Loop. Great L options and a block south of the Riverwalk.

  5. “Originally constructed in 1985, the Thompson Center was designed late architect Helmut Jahn, one of the original architects “Chicago Seven” architects known for forward-thinking post-modern designs. The Prime Group initially took ownership of the Thompson Center last year for $70 million last year.”
    Almost every article has some confoundingly bad/repetitive prose like this. Do y’all not read things before hitting “post”?

    • Hi Pendant, thank you for bringing this to our attention. We aimed to provide context regarding the Thompson Center’s history, but the execution in that section was off. We’ve since made corrections. I’ll be more vigilant in ensuring our future articles maintain a high standard. Your feedback is important to us and we appreciate your readership!

      • Thanks, Jack!

      • Do we know whether Clarke and Lake CTA will be modernized as part of this project. It’s a disgusting station in need of repair.

        • Hi Brandon, when the original proposals were floating around, there was some talk of constructing a supertall that would help offset a potential Clarke and Lake modernization. However, the current plan is to keep the station intact and operational during the Thompson Center renovation, indicating that a modernization will not be included in the current scope.

  6. leave it as is

  7. Man Helmut is gonna be pissed

  8. I hope this helps spur some residential development downtown. I would really like to see some of the downtown parking garages torn down and replaced with apartment buildings. Two of the four corners of Madison and Wells are parking garages. The city needs more property tax revenue.

  9. I’m happy with this overall but most thrilled about getting rid of the monstrous Dubuffet sculpture out front. I believe the original 1980s vision for the harsh incongruity between this “organic artwork” and the sleek new edifice was intended as a feature, not a bug. That vision just happened to be executed as a crime against aesthetic principles….

    • Snoopy in a Blender is what those of us born and raised in Chicago call the Dubuffet, just like we call Cloud Gate, the Bean. While I lack the credentials to comment on whether its a good or meaningful sculpture, I like it, just like I like the Bean, and the Rooster. They are all big, weird and joyful pieces of art.

  10. The censoring of critical comments on here is laughable.

    • Hi Shaun, thanks for being active on our platform. We aim to keep discussions focused and on-topic. In rare circumstances, comments that lean into racial generalizations or that might come across as divisive are where we need to be cautious. Our goal isn’t to stifle discussion, but to prevent potential tensions and ensure a constructive environment. Your understanding and continued engagement are appreciated.

      • Since Urbanize and Yimby are following neck and neck with articles, do you ever collaborate on info/pieces? There are some things this platform does well that the other doesn’t, and vice-versa.

        Curbed used to organize projects by neighborhoods well. Neither site has quite recaptured that organization. Yimby has a fantastic model of city progress, and it’s interesting to see info on sister cities. I appreciate the interactive map on Urbanize that follows particular projects and their completion status.

        Yimby, as a site, kinda sucks to navigate. Urbanize has the worst spellcheck. Yimby won’t let you edit a comment. Curbed’s downfall was selling out to Vox and getting too political.

        Just curious about the thought process. How do you feel where you stand?

        • Hi Drew, this is very, very helpful and insightful feedback – thank you! Currently, there are no plans to collaborate with Urbanize per se, though we are actively looking inward to improve our own site and articles. On my side, I am planning to start integrating some new types of media in the near future (so keep an eye out 👀) For the more technical and website-related components like comment editing, that’s less within my direct control, though I will look into possible improvements based on what you described. I have two follow-up questions that could help orient us even more:

          1. For the website navigation, are there any aspects in particular that detract significantly from your experience?
          2. What was it about Curbed’s neighborhood organization that made it superior over YIMBY and Urbanize? It seems like it could be the fact that Curbed had its own “Neighborhoods” page, but wanted to clarify and see if there any other elements you enjoyed.

          • For one, it’s a bit frustrating you can’t navigate to the other cities under the YIMBY platform. The obviously act independently, but it’s all under the same umbrella.

            Then there’s the site’s physical layout.

            It makes sense to keep things simple and not overly distracting, but trying to find an old article/project, you need really good memory for keywords.

            Curbed did a great job at pairing articles with other keywords, too. This site does nice with going a little over at keynoting relative hot words related to the specific project, but would be nice if I could find articles specific to “infrastructure”, “transit”, “adaptive reuse”, “preservation”, and etc.

            And once in search, there’s no way to navigate such keywords. I can search “adaptive reuse Loop” but then lots of unrelated articles pop up. Anything that mentions “Loop” come into search.

            Maybe narrow it down to a more digestible list of hot topics related to what you report? You’re still in charge of the content, but make it seem like I’m exploring? Archdaily lets you find relevant projects by type. “Residential”, “Parks”, “Schools”, etc.

            And for neighborhood navigation, I have been studying Chicago for over a decade now, and there’s still tons I miss. I still struggle with all 77 neighborhoods and don’t even ask on me where each is located. I’d love an interactive map to click on a neighborhood outline that then directs to relevant articles of that location. That’s a pipe dream, but for starters, at least showing what neighborhoods exist would help one find info better. Grouping these neighborhoods by city orientation would also be super useful. North vs south vs west vs etc.

            I believe the biggest lack in being able to search for things I didn’t even know I was looking for. Hard to explore is what I’m getting at.

          • Jack Crawford | October 21, 2023 at 12:17 pm |

            This is incredibly helpful. I will discuss this feedback with the YIMBY team and determine what is feasible. Thank you for taking the time to highlight these pain points and potential enhancements. One tip regarding the search function is that if you place the exact phrase you want to find in quotes, it will search for the entire phrase rather than individual words. However, this is not immediately obvious.

  11. Translation: check your freedom of speech at the door.

    Humor me, Lefty.

  12. another chicago preservation failure

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