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Thompson Center


Thompson Center
James R. Thompson Center, State of Illinois Building


Structure in General

high-rise building
existing [completed]
caisson foundation
curtain wall


commercial office
shop(s) restaurant metro station museum


  • The office floors wrap around a giant cylindrical atrium which extends through the roof to a sloping skylight. The atrium is separated from the plaza by a curved glass wall.
  • The building houses state government offices, a post office, a rapid transit station serving five train lines, shops, sculptures, a free public art gallery, and a blood donation center.
  • The columns and granite screens which encircle the base continue around the perimeter of the plaza, decreasing in height the farther they get from the building.
  • Blue glass, salmon-pink panels, red structural elements, and pink granite give the interior and exterior an eye-catching color scheme.
  • At the time of its construction the design was a sharp break from convention, with a broad sloping curve of glass sweeping from one corner of the block to the other. The shape has often been compared to a spaceship.
  • The building's bold design by Helmut Jahn was commissioned by four-term Illinois governor James R. Thompson, after whom the building is named.
  • Just inside the main entrance a waterfall pours down to the lower level between a pair of escalators.
  • Glass elevators with vaulted tops shuttle passengers up and down a pair of elevator bays that project into the atrium.
  • The basement level holds an auditorium and a large food court which opens onto the atrium.
  • A two-story open gallery encircles the entire building at sidewalk level, with round columns screened by flat granite panels.
  • Conceived as a futuristic reinterpretation of the state capitol form, the building's skylight and central atrium stand in for the traditional dome and rotunda.
  • The plaza features the Jean Dubuffet sculpture Monument With Standing Beast, a 4-piece amorphic fiberglass construction painted white and crossed by a web of black lines.
  • This structure replaced the Michael A. Bilandic Building across the street as the principal Illinois state government building in Chicago.
  • The Dubuffet sculpture's companion, Monument With Phantom, is located in the plaza of the Enterprise Plaza in Houston.

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More Information


100 West Randolph Street
150 North Clark Street, 101 West Lake Street, 151 North LaSalle Street
100 West Randolph Street

Technical Data

308.00 ft
308.00 ft
308.00 ft

Involved Companies

Lester B. Knight Associates
electrical connections, electrical contractor, escalator supplier, facade consultant, facade installation, facade maintenance system supplier, facility management, fire protection engineering, general contractor, owner, roofing supplier, window installation

Features & Amenities

  • One of the city's famous buildings
  • Atrium is present
  • Metro entrance inside building
  • Panoramic elevators are present
  • Pedway access is available
  • Plaza is available to the public
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