James R. Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph St.

Thompson Center

2001 NB

Garish, monstrous, and perpetually startling, the Thompson Center may be the most controversial building in Chicago. I happen to like it, but I sympathize with foes' complaints. For one thing, it is a miserable waste of space, a blasphemy in a city whose architectural motto used to be "form follows function." When you get inside it seems like half of it has disappeared. For another, the orangish- red-and-blue color scheme is visually grating. For another, postmodern architecture is supposed to have historical references, and this building defies precedent in a Jetsons-space-age kind of way. And no, I can't figure out that fettecuine-alfredo-like sculpture out front either. 

But the sheer brashness and verve of the design capture the attention in a powerful way, making the Thompson Center an vibrant gathering place for the otherwise snoozifying business of state government. I get my haircut here every month, and I always look forward to walking through the doors and letting my eyes swim around the ceiling. Like Chicago itself, the Thompson Center is not always pretty, but it is a commanding presence.  -NB

-More about the Thompson Center from the State of Illinois
-Pictures from FrankMcMahon.com and AViewonCities.com.


© Copyright 2001-2003
Nathan L.K. Bierma