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Thompson Center Design Competition from Chicago Architecture Center and Chicago Architectural Club

United States Architecture News - Jun 18, 2021 - 14:09   2417 views

Thompson Center Design Competition from Chicago Architecture Center and Chicago Architectural Club

The Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) and the Chicago Architectural Club have announced an architectural design competition calling for new, creative visions for the State of Illinois “Thompson” Center designed by Helmut Jahn, built in 1984 and put up for sale in May 2021 by the State of Illinois. 

The competition seeks to give the building new life through restorative architecture while preserving its architecture and public character. The competition is open to anyone with a vision for the building including students, architects, designers, planners and artists. 

Competition registration, available through the Chicago Architecture Club website, closes on July 2 and competition submissions are due July 19. The winning design will be announced in August.

"The Thompson Center, the focus of the 2021 Chicago Prize Competition, is a poignant subject to reimagine as this iconic structure and site faces a doubtful future and as we speculate on the "post-pandemic” contemporary city," said Elva Rubio, Chicago Architecture Club co-president. "The Chicago Architectural Club is pleased to partner with the Chicago Architecture Center to support this initiative on behalf of Chicago and the global design community."

Thompson Center Design Competition from Chicago Architecture Center and Chicago Architectural Club

The Thompson Center

The sale and possible demolition of the Thompson Center has been controversial among architecture and design professionals in Chicago and around the world leading to the creation of The James R. Thompson Historical Society that gave public tours of the building. 

Despite the toll caused by lack of maintenance, Helmut Jahn’s design of the Thompson Center is prized by the design world as a unique example of post-modern architectural design in a civic building meant to draw citizens into the daily workings of government.

Thompson Center Design Competition from Chicago Architecture Center and Chicago Architectural Club

The Thompson Center

From the competition brief:

"The Thompson Center’s design was progressive for its time. Dwelling in the vertical shadows of modern icons like Mies van der Rohe’s Daley Center, Helmut Jahn’s mid-rise Thompson Center pierced the trends of neighboring International Style and Neoclassical buildings with a revolutionary concept for a civic building, one that represents a promising future of ‘transparency and accessibility’."

"Bringing together the various services of government offices in one building, the Thompson Center is also a major transit hub and a place for gathering to enjoy art, shop, and dine. Jahn brings open space indoors with the remarkable glazed 17-story grand atrium. Known as a “people’s center” or a “people’s palace”, the building was a symbol of government accessibility, transparency, and commitment to serving the people. This was a bold departure from how government buildings used to interface with the public."

The jury to select the winning design submission will be announced later in June.

All images by JAHN.

> via Chicago Architectural Club