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Thompson Center

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


Structure in General

high-rise building
existing [completed]
caisson foundation
curtain wall
white light blue dark pink


commercial office
shop(s) restaurant metro station museum


  • The building houses state government offices, a post office, a rapid transit station serving five train lines, shops, sculptures, and a free public art gallery.
  • The building's bold design by Helmut Jahn was commissioned by four-term Illinois governor James R. Thompson, after whom the building is named.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Glass elevators with vaulted tops shuttle passengers up and down a pair of elevator bays that project into the atrium.
  • Both the interior and the exterior feature an eye-catching color scheme of light blue, dark pink, and white.
  • Helmut Jahn described the color palette as a 'toned down' red, white, and blue.
  • Just inside the main entrance a waterfall pours down to the lower level between a pair of escalators.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Dubuffet sculpture's companion, Monument With Phantom, is located in the plaza of the Enterprise Plaza in Houston.
  • This structure replaced the Michael A. Bilandic Building across the street as the principal Illinois state government building in Chicago.

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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

Murphy/Jahn, Inc.
Lester B. Knight Associates

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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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