Politicians use architectural renderings in bid to sell Chicago’s Thompson Center

The renderings are meant to show the potential of the site located in the heart of the Chicago Loop.

January 24, 2017 |

Rendering courtesy of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture 

When news hits of an Illinois Governor attempting to sell something related to the government, people typically start to wonder how long the prison sentence will be. In this instance, however, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s intentions aren’t quite so nefarious as the past may have you believe.

The James R. Thompson Center, a 17-story structure designed by Helmut Jahn and completed in 1985, houses offices of the Illinois state government and has been described by Rauner as “ineffective,” “inefficient,” and “in disrepair,” according to dnainfo.com.

Due to the building’s shortcomings, Rauner is once again attempting to sell it following an unsuccessful attempt in 2015. According to Rauner’s office, a sale of the building would net $220 million and eliminate having to pay $326 million in deferred maintenance bills.

In an attempt to prove more successful than his prior efforts to sell, Rauner is using a conceptual study and renderings from Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture to show the site’s potential.

One rendering replaces the Thompson Center, and the full city block it sits on, with three towers. The other, more striking rendering, imagines what the site would look like with a new 1,700-foot-tall tower.

Rauner is hoping these conceptual designs will have the same effect as staging a home has for helping potential buyers envision what can be done with the space.

Even if buyers are interested after seeing the renderings, Rauner’s plans for selling the building are again subject to approval from the Illinois General Assembly, which denied his attempt at a sale back in 2015.


The three towers on the Thompson site as viewed from Clark Street. Rendering courtesy of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. 

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