Chicago Architecture Info

The Thompson Center



Full name The James R. Thompson Center
Formerly The State of Illinois Center
Address 100 West Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois 60601
Neighborhood The Loop
Built 1985
Developer State of Illinois Capital Development Board
Architecture firm Murphy/Jahn Architects
Architect Helmut Jahn
  • Government Building
  • Office
  • Retail
  • Transit
Floors 17
  • Building height: 308 feet
  • Atrium ceiling: 230 feet
  • Skylight height above roof: 75 feet
Net Site Area 127,490.31 square feet
Building footprint 14,680 square feet
Loading docks Five
Floor space 1,200,000 square feet
Cost $173,000,000


  • This was formerly the location of the Sherman Hotel.
  • This building was named for former Illinois governor James R. Thompson.
  • The oversized atrium allowed visitors to see government employees at work. It was intended to reinforce the notion of open and transparent government. Others interpreted the noise and bustle as symbolic of the chaos of bureaucracy.
  • This building includes the CTA's Clark/Lake Station, which serves eight rail lines, and is described by the State of Illinois as the city's busiest L station.
  • This building is connected to the Chicago Pedway system.
  • The building's rotunda is 160 feet in diameter.
  • The Thompson Center is required to have 33 off-street parking spaces.
  • The Pedway linking this building and Chicago City Hall slopes. According to the Chicago Tribune, it's, "evidence of a miscommunication between government bodies"


November 4, 1981 Plans for this building were approved by the City of Chicago.
1985 Construction finished.
1993 The Chicago Tribune reported that due to poor air conditioning, temperatures inside The Thompson Center can reach 95 degrees.
2004 The Chicago Tribune includes The Thompson Center on a list of "the Loop's ugliest buildings."
2006 The Chicago Tribune again includes The Thompson Center on a list of "the Loop's ugliest buildings."
2007 The State of Illinois considered selling this building, and then leasing the space back from its new owned in order to reduce expenses.
2015 The State of Illinois first proposed selling The Thompson Center to real estate developers.
2016 The State of Illinois circulated a design from architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill that envisioned replacing this building with a 1,700-foot-tall skyscraper of 115 floors.
2017 The State of Illinois proposed moving out of this building and selling it to a real estate developer. At the time, the state said the building needed $325,000,000 in repairs. Critics noted that the building needed those repairs because the state did not maintain it fully, and cut corners during construction to save money.
2017 This building first made Landmarks Illinois' yearly list of Illinois Most Endangered Buildings.
2019 In an effort to save his creation from demolition, architect Helmut Jahn proposed adding a 110-story, 1,340-foot-tall mixed use tower to the southwest corner of this building.
January, 2021 The State of Illinois purchased the building at 500 West Monroe Street for $73,000,000 in order to move its employees out of this building.
April, 2021 The State of Illinois began moving hundreds of its employees out of this building and into a new one it bought at 500 West Monroe Street.
March 24, 2021 An ordinance was introduced to change the zoning of this land from Planned Development 270 to DX-16, allowing The Thompson Center to be demolished and replaced by a skyscraper over 100 stories tall.
May 3, 2021 The State of Illinois issued a formal request for bids from real estate developers for this property. It described the building as, "larger than necessary for the State’s operations, spatially inefficient, and costly to operate with a significant maintenance backlog."


[The Thompson Center was a] flop [that] sent Helmut Jahn into architectural exile; for years, he went without work in Chicago.
Blair Kamin, The Chicago Tribune June 7, 2008