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Thompson says namesake building “looks like a scrap heap”

Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

* The Executive Mansion isn’t the only state property falling into disrepair. Greg Hinz

The carpeting is beyond ratty, literally held together by duct tape on almost every floor.

The ceiling leaks and the metal panels are rusted. The walls need repainting, and many are discolored. The covered walkway around the building is filthy, and the planters finally got a few plants just last week, though the dead growth from last season’s roses is still there.

Even the landmark Dubuffet sculpture looks discolored, old and tired.

If you wanted to pick a metaphor for the sad shape of Illinois and its government, you couldn’t do better — really, I should say worse — than to stop by the James R. Thompson Center in the North Loop, the seat of state government in Illinois’ largest city. Though the marble floors sparkle and signs of recent work exist here and there, overall it’s a truly sad sight. […]

“It looks like a scrap heap,” [former Gov. Jim Thompson said]. “It’s terrible, just terrible.” […]

“They still have the same [carpet] we put in when the building opened in 1985,” Mr. Thompson said. “And we did cheap carpeting then to stay within the budget. But it wasn’t supposed to last 30 years.”

“What kind of message does it send,” he continues, when visitors walk into a dump? “What impression do you want people to have of state government?”

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


89 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    “What kind of message does it send,” he continues, when visitors walk into a dump? “What impression do you want people to have of state government?

    That it is broke, which is basically is…


  2. - Jimbo - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:48 am:

    I’ve told my girlfriend so many times how awful that building is. She didn’t believe it could be that bad until she saw for herself. The building is in terrible shape no doubt, but on top of that, it was ugly to begin with, and what in the name of god is with the salmon and teal color scheme?


  3. - Jimbo - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    Not sure if everyone knows this, but granite panels were falling off of it. Since there weren’t funds to replace them, they just took them off and called it a day. That’s Illinois for you.


  4. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:50 am:

    I’ve been waiting for this story for a few years now. Problem is, taxpayers don’t like to spend money so public employees can have nice offices. No one wants to pay to build “palaces for the staff.”

    Remember the brou-ha-ha over the Capitol doors? Ever wonder why replacing the Stratton building never makes it into the budget?

    It’s embarassing, a sorry state of affairs, and irresponsible stewardship of a public asset to let this building deteriorate as it has. Yes, it’s ugly and no one ever really liked it, but this is the seat of state government in Chicago. It should be maintained properly because it reflects on all of us as taxpayers and residents of Illinois. That is OUR building.


  5. - RNUG - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:50 am:

    The JRT building always was a boondoggle … and it hasn’t gotten any better with age. Admired the design but hated it when I had to spend a day in it. Only government could erect a building with that much empty space / hot air in it.


  6. - Fed Up - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:52 am:

    The retail and food court are disgusting. They still havent figured out how to heat and cool the place. Boondoggle from day one.


  7. - Campaign for the Tweens - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    Don’t worry, since it’s a building in the state capitol of Chicago, it’ll get the needed funds to repair it after the election.


  8. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 11:59 am:

    Wow, and Big Jim was about the only one who liked the place from the get-go.

    I don’t think new carpeting is going to solve the problem. It was always strange to me to design an office building with so little office space, and so much open, and open-air space.

    Might have been a good design for a train station. But it’s a real dog for an office building.


  9. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Not to change the subject, because the JRTC is in bad shape, but lots of state facilities are. I’ve been driving I-55 a lot lately from CHI to STL, and the rest areas in this state are in deplorable shape if they are even open. The ones just north of SPFD are disgusting, and the one just south of B-N has been closed completely forever. Those rest areas are sometimes all that visitors passing through Illinois see of our state, and if that’s what I saw I’d never come back. Some legislator needs to pick this up as a cause, and see them for themselves.


  10. - DuPage - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    Amazing what “deferred maintenance” can do.

    Give it a little more time and it will be in the same condition as the governors mansion.


  11. - in absentia - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    You gotta wonder when the state will “turn the corner!” There has to be an event that will revive things and it may be the next election, or maybe something else; but it’s way overdue. Some bold decisions and leadership required. Thompson was an inspired man - and a great speech-giver. Very motivating character. Who’s going to be next?


  12. - titan - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    No one mentioned all the bare wires jutting up out of the floors (through holes cut in the carpets).

    If it wasn’t a government building, the government would close it.


  13. - Chris - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:09 pm:

    Maybe if Big Jim had made getting public pension 100% funded a priority during his term in office, there would be more available funds today to maintain public buildings.

    Anyway, not having to hear from the namesakes of public buildings is *another* reason why we shouldn’t name public buildings after the living.


  14. - foster brooks - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:12 pm:

    Your more than free to request the GA to take your name off the building,bet you don’t.


  15. - Under Influenced - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:13 pm:

    Our Opinion: Copper-plated doors at Capitol warrant outrage
    http://www.sj-r.com/article/20130908/News/309089934#ixzz38PHhL594

    Gauen: Lavish doors at Illinois Capitol symbolize out-of-touch government
    http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/columns/pat-gauen/gauen-lavish-doors-at-illinois-capitol-symbolize-out-of-touch/article_70dd6213-6522-5817-ad65-fef792162f2f.html

    We just can’t have nice things…
    Luckily our brave politicos have led the charge to cut government waste.


  16. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    We’re paying the price of “doing more with less,” with 50 thousand state employees under the Governor when 12 years ago there were 65 thousand, a 23% reduction. Eventually, “lean and mean” becomes “starved and surly” … .

    Building maintenance - something else that can’t be done from a kiosk.
    http://capitolfax.com/2014/03/24/todays-number-20100/


  17. - Norseman - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    Word, I swear I didn’t plagiarize your phraseology. It just came naturally for this building.


  18. - Empty Suit - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:18 pm:

    Who ever designed that building should be publicly flogged.


  19. - OneMan - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:21 pm:

    Well Empty Suit…

    Here is your dude

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helmut_Jahn


  20. - anon - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    Don’t get me started on the felony Criminal Courthouse at 26th and California and the filthy parking garage. The only time the place has ever been cleaned was when the media was descending for the R. Kelly case. And you wonder why people have no respect for the law.


  21. - phocion - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:29 pm:

    Tear it down. Have a private developer with a world class architect design and build a world class highrise. The State of Illinois can be the new building’s primary tenant.


  22. - Bogey Golfer - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:31 pm:

    =Who ever designed that building should be publicly flogged.=
    Helmut Jahn.


  23. - littleone - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:36 pm:

    The building is rundown & difficult to work in. I can’t tell you how many complaints I’ve gotten from people who call during “Stepping on the Concourse” (first Thursday of every month) or “Salsa on the Concourse” (third Thursday of every month) and can’t hear a word I’m saying. Whoever thought it was a good idea to blast music while people are trying to work upstairs is crazy.


  24. - Black Ivy - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:36 pm:

    From rats to roaches to bed bugs, the JRTC simply needs a re-do ASAP! Working here takes the strength of Job…on many levels…


  25. - Downstate Illinois - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:37 pm:

    Please just repaint it quickly before the salmon and teal gain historic status and we’re stuck with that 1980s color scheme forever.

    I have noticed that the Bilandic building across the street where Madigan and Cullerton have their big offices seem to be much nicer.


  26. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:38 pm:

    First off, you don’t name public building after people - it only encourages the guys working the budget to dream of the day their name is on a public building. Bad precedent. You don’t see the Executive Mansion in DC called “The Kennedy House”, do you?

    Things wear out. Economies, as well as building. If we recall our architectural history, there wasn’t a lot going on between 1928 and 1958 in the Loop. Folks were wearing out the buildings and had little money to put up a new big building. This happens during bad economic times.

    The Thompson Center indeed reflects our economic situation in the State.

    Finally, I have done my share of work with big egos with lots of money. I clearly recall asking one of them why he wasn’t spending money keeping up a particular tower for which he was responsible. He told me that his legacy was going to be the new building, not fixing up the old one. He said there was no legacy in sinking his time and money into someone else’s legacy. He didn’t let the old tower disintegrate - but he did ensure that there were millions for every detail in his new tower.

    Which carried his name upon it.

    So - ever since that time, I recall his comments and recognized that if we continue to allow public officials to take our money and build monuments to themselves, then it shouldn’t be a surprise to see our budget leaders today, spending more attention focusing on their legacy, then rebuilding Jim Thompsons’.

    Finally, what is the future of public buildings anyway? What is the future of the office? Would it be wise to spend millions of public money on something as ugly and obsolete as the Thompson Center?

    The Center has outlived its usefulness, in my opinion.


  27. - Bring Back Boone's - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    Rename it the Rod R. Blagojevich center? Maybe that would be a little more fitting?


  28. - Stones - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    Just an off the cuff comment but with so many State buildings and roads requiring maintenance would it make some sense to utilize non-violent inmates to provide some of the labor? I’ve never understood why at a minimum we can’t have inmates picking up trash from our interstate highways?


  29. - D.P.Gumby - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    JRT is largely responsible for the state of the JRTC to begin w/. He wanted an architect’s gem, but couldn’t afford to have it built. So they skimped on everything, including correcting design flaws, construction materials, etc. etc. Beyond just its subjective ugliness, it’s shoddy. They even limited the number of office doors to save money!


  30. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:08 pm:

    It isn’t just that it’s run down, it would be awful even if it was maintained.

    1) It’s a giant greenhouse. It’s impossible to properly heat/cool in the summer/winter.

    2) It’s mostly empty space. It occupies a full city block in the loop and very little of that volume is actually offices. Most of it is just a giant open air area.

    3) Because of so much open space it functions as a large echo chamber. They often have musical events in the food court in the basement and you can hear it clear as day all the way up. It’s almost impossible to have a meeting in December in your office with the door closed over the sounds of Christmas caroling.

    And it happens to be in disrepair. But the disrepair is the least of what makes it awful.


  31. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:08 pm:

    The high point of the Klan, both politically and in membership nationwide, was in the Roaring 20s and economics had nothing to with it.

    It was simple virulent bigotry toward large-scale Catholic and Jewish immigration from southern and eastern Europe as well as reaction to the rising aspirations of post-war black Americans.

    Losers like that always play the victim of something.


  32. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:08 pm:

    Stones: Agree with the idea, but I will tell you AFSCME will, and has, blocked the use of DOC non-violent and short-term inmates from doing those types of things.


  33. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    And if the state spent any money on that building the public would be screaming about it.


  34. - Solved - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:15 pm:

    Sell the building and lease it back from the buyer with lease covenants requiring the repairs be made. Take thompson’s name off and sell naming rights.


  35. - Anon - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:18 pm:

    === The Thompson Center indeed reflects our economic situation in the State. ===

    This is just another symptom of the chronic underfunding of state government. Ralph Martire has been preaching about the need to modernize the state tax system for years. Doesn’t sound as if it will happen any time soon.


  36. - Just Trying to Survive - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Illinois must have the cheapest of cheap people living here. They want everything but they want someone else to pay for it. What else is new? Champagne taste on a beer budget. Leave it all alone. It’s totally appropriate and speaks to our attitude about state government.


  37. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    We just spent $31 BILLION on the “Jobs Now!” capital bill.

    If the big brains running Springfield can’t figure out a way the tidy up the Thompson Center with that much money and time, we are in worse shape than I thought.


  38. - Gannt Chart - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:32 pm:

    Some who knows the details of the following two JRTC stories should regale the readership with the details:
    The ridiculous iceberg freezing/thawing concept of cooling the building.
    How the JRTC was affected by the great Chicago tunnels flood of ‘94.


  39. - Howard - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    So why not just “borrow” some more from the pension systems to update all of the buildings? It’s free money and we don’t have to pay it back. If it goes to the Supreme Court of Illinois, at least 4 judges will approve of the loan.


  40. - Left Leaner - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    Time for the state to sell the Thompson center.

    It doesn’t function well as an office building, but could make for a good shopping, entertainment and food center.

    The state could likely get better bang for the buck by leasing office space.


  41. - Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    It was a hideous building from the get-go. Its design has not stood the test of time — 70s schlock architecture at its finest. That is the real problem.


  42. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:39 pm:

    The Thompson Center is used by hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans every year. Not to mention the many state employees who work there every day.

    The Executive Mansion is the governor’s home.

    Both are in a state of disrepair.

    As for the Capitol Building, the place our legislators report to work for part of the year? They get bronzed doors, intricate chandeliers and staircase “maidens”.

    Our Capitol Building, the Mansion and the Thompson Center are all important public symbols that should be taken care of.

    Unfortunately, it appears one has been gilded while the others rot.


  43. - Chris - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    “The ridiculous iceberg freezing/thawing concept of cooling the building.”

    You’re knocking the chilled water cooling system? See: http://www.sustainable-chicago.com/2010/03/11/cold-as-ice-how-downtown-chicago-keeps-cool/

    Now, whatever system they use in Thompson is pretty obviously not really sufficient, but isn’t that as much because of the cheap windows making the solar load so much higher as anything else?

    I wonder what the energy savings would be if they replaced all the atrium windows with dual-pane, low-e windows? Seems likely that the cost of the project would be close to the cost of a new, less ‘fancy’ building of similar usable square footage, but that’s not the question.


  44. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    ==Time for the state to sell the Thompson center.==

    Rod Blagojevich tried to do that. It was nixed by the AG.


  45. - Gannt Chart - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:50 pm:

    Downstate Illinois is correct; the multiple renovations of the MABB across the street have gone well and despite its age, it is still a very serviceable building. And work is going well on the Supremes’ building in Springfield.


  46. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 1:58 pm:

    –It doesn’t function well as an office building, but could make for a good shopping, entertainment and food center.–

    Wow, I really don’t see that. The retail and food operations there now and pretty lame.


  47. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    It was designed by a world class architect. Have times and tastes changed? Sure, and that happens to every architectural style ever. Seen any Sistine Chapels buildings put up lately? Buildings like the old ones at U of C?

    There was some shortchanging at the very end of construction. I believe the windows were only double glazed instead of triple. Those holes in carpets with wires were because there wasn’t money to install all the electrical “tombstones” originally planned for. They didn’t “short” on doors, the building was designed to have very few, a more “democratic” and open approach, which didn’t last long. And the offices built and doors installed exacerbated the heating and cooling problems (much of it intended to circulate thru the lighting fixtures). The winches or whatever to allow the easy changing of the flags out front were not done or didn’t work or something. The ice cube at night concept never worked right and was soon abandoned. All relatively minor things in the greater scheme of life.

    The building was a huge success at the time it opened, and was a major tourist “must see” for many years. I have no idea if it still is.

    Of course it isn’t well maintained. Show me a government building that is. Over the time I was involved the widow washing schedule at the building went from 4 times a year to 2, and then to 1. I have no idea what it is.

    I can direct you to 2 or 3 state buildings that are quite well maintained compared to other buildings their age. Can you guess which they are, and what they have in common?


  48. - LincolnLounger - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    Has anybody been in Willard Ice Building lately?

    Pretty much the same thing, though not with the teal and salmon (Hallelujah!)

    Hoping the new Walgreen’s in JRTC helps.


  49. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:18 pm:

    The story is not complete without mentioning the huge cost overruns in the early stages of the project (anyone remember the final tab without the Google?) that led to major cost cutting in the late stages. The cheap carpet Big Jim mentioned is a good example-should have been replaced 10 or more years ago. Most exterior glass is thinner than planned. Painted drywall interior walls were left uncovered due to lack of funds.

    Although there were few takers, CMS offered a voluntary program to let agencies bring some of their old crap furniture to the new building instead of sending it to surplus property. The genius behind that idea went on to fame and fortune in MO state government.

    For you “outlived its usefulness” and “tear it down” folks, get real. We’ll see a Ritz-Carlton in the Stratton footprint before the State makes a move that big.


  50. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:19 pm:

    And you fans of the MABB (and it is quite a nice building, though it is under maintained also and will fail quickly): the gov’s office was on the 21st(?-gee, it has been a long time) of that building. The first time I went in his office to meet with Governor Walker the first thing I noticed was how badly faded and torn the carpets and drapes were, and that was 1975 or 76.


  51. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    AA, great point. I had completely forgotten the early cost overruns.


  52. - DuPage - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:42 pm:

    @D.P.Gumby1:06=So they skimped on everything…=

    It is common with “low bid” construction. It is bid too low in order to get the contract. Then they (the contractors) cut corners to try to not lose money on the deal.


  53. - Under Further Review - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 2:43 pm:

    I disliked this building from Day One despite the fact that family members worked on its construction. It was pointed out to me that the novelty of the elevators enclosed in glass would quickly wear off once grime and dust settled on the cables and the cars. One measure of how ineffective the building design was is the fact that the “Old” State of Illinois Building had to be retained because Helmut Jahn failed to provide enough space to house the state employees in his show case. Every Spring ice cascades off the roof into the plaza. Every Summer the air conditioning bills spike.

    A building as useless as its namesake? Maybe.


  54. - Beau Joe - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:01 pm:

    Thank you Arthur Anderson. The huge cost “overruns” needed to be said.


  55. - Andy - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:06 pm:

    Why does Big Jim, with all his pension money and then some, pay to have his namesake fixed up?


  56. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:18 pm:

    I remember when the JRTC was built. Sure, lots of folks thought it was wonderful but it didn’t take being an architect to know it was FUBAR. Huge waste of space. Designers like Jahn are more into form than substance. That’s ok for the avant garde set but citizens and state employees deserve better. Heck, even supposedly regular buildings have huge problems. The Juvenile Court building, both the old and new sections, are rife with problems w/HVAC, etc.

    But that JRTC sure did make for a great movie set (Running Scared). Great cop buddy movie.


  57. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:21 pm:

    ===(Running Scared). Great cop buddy movie.===

    You’re kidding right? Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal playing Chicago cops? That was a horrible movie and a civic embarassment.


  58. - The Captain - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:35 pm:

    @47th Ward

    Yeah but they did live every state employee’s fantasy of working that building over pretty good. Any movie where the Stratton Building gets destroyed will automatically earn a place in the AFI’s top 50.


  59. - Under Further Review - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:35 pm:

    The place looked like a cheap futuristic model from “Doctor Who.” As for Jahn, his design for Shure in Niles (which has a huge Plexi-glass wall for no reason) has killed dozens of birds.

    The Thompson Center ranks right up there with the Minnesota’s Metrodome as a civic embarrassment.


  60. - Norseman - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:36 pm:

    47, are you talking about the movie being an embarrassment or the building?

    You must be talking about the movie if you’re talking in context of the city. The building is an embarrassment to Illinois.

    To Steve, how was this building a success? They closed the State of Illinois Building so folks had to move into JRTC. Nobody I talked to liked it and we continually had to deal with issues caused by the poor design.


  61. - Smoke and Mirrors - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:37 pm:

    It’s an ugly building. always has been ugly. Too bad all those construction workers were killed building it too!


  62. - dupage dan - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:40 pm:

    Consider the genre, 47th. Comparing this movie to Citizen Kane would make it horrible. Comparing it to K-9 would be a better one. In that light…

    The only civic embarrassment was the building. It remains so.


  63. - Under Further Review - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:41 pm:

    @Norseman:

    The State of Illinois Building is still in use. The Thompson Center was so lacking in office space that the state never closed the old building. The appellate courts and the commerce commission are still across the street in the old place.


  64. - Under Further Review - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:43 pm:

    Another thought: I always though Edgar had the building renamed for Thompson in order to be certain that posterity would not blame him for this eyesore.


  65. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:49 pm:

    Well, you can see one difference between JRT and JE in the buildings they had built. Edgar did the new State Library.


  66. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:51 pm:

    ===K-9===

    LOL. I was more of a Turner & Hootch fan. You want a good Chicago cop buddy movie? Two words: Red Heat.


  67. - Norseman - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:52 pm:

    Under Further Review, the building was closed for renovation. I thought the original plan was to close it, but the plans changed. I could be wrong about the intentions for the building, but it did close for renovation.

    When it got renovated, my old Department’s upper management moved into it. And they did that because JRTC sucked.


  68. - Norseman - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 3:54 pm:

    === Well, you can see one difference between JRT and JE in the buildings they had built. Edgar did the new State Library. ===

    That we can agree on Steve.


  69. - Dirty Red - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    Statehouse.
    Stratton.
    Executive Mansion.
    JRTC.

    All of them should be crying, “Remember the Armory!”

    That said, I’m relieved the Supreme Court building is not on this list. And to a critic’s credit, it can be difficult to publicly justify updating buildings like the Stratton and JRTC when the universities have deferred maintenance bills in the hundreds of millions.


  70. - Streator Curmudgeon - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 4:16 pm:

    If they make another Blues Brothers movie sequel, the Illinois film office can require that they have a chase scene where the BB drive through the Thompson Center, destroying it like they did that shopping mall.

    Then condemn it and tear it down. Problem solved.


  71. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 4:39 pm:

    Streator, ok, that “tear it down” post was pretty good. Lord knows there are enough old police cars around, except most of them are out on patrol.

    Schnorf, I might be wrong, but I think a fancy automated window-washing gizmo was designed and either didn’t make the final cut or made it and never worked.


  72. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 4:42 pm:

    –Red Heat.–

    Can’t say I made it through that one.

    Tell me: did those two opposites bridge their cultural differences, learn to work together to catch the bad guy and come to not only respect each other, but like each other?

    Looked impossible when I faded out.

    Best Chicago cops and public buildings movie is, of course, Blues Brothers.

    But, in an indirect way, “The Dark Knight” is the best Chicago cop buddy movie.

    The Lower Wacker, Lake Street and LaSalle Street scenes are awesome. And that Brach’s corporate building blowed-up real good.

    Now if they had only finished the job on the eyesore old factory.


  73. - Chris E - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 4:44 pm:

    I had a front row seat at Capital Development Board when State of Illinois Center (original name) was being designed and built. It’s no palace - never was meant to be. Thought it would last more than 30 years however.


  74. - retired and fed up - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 4:51 pm:

    I forgot to add no breathing problems now.


  75. - Soccermom - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 5:09 pm:

    JRTC is a nightmare to work in. It’s incredibly noisy, and the heating and cooling are ridiculously inadequate. (In my first office in JRTC, there was no heat. So if I closed my door, I literally got frost on the inside of my windows.)

    It doesn’t work for employees and it doesn’t work for people doing business with the state. I know the idea was “transparency,” but I will vote for hvac over post-modernism any day. And do you remember the state employees who had to use beach umbrellas because the glare made it impossible to see their computer screens?


  76. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 6:14 pm:

    Soccermom -

    As Schnorf mentioned, hVAC for every office is actually in the light fixture.

    Sounds like you had a maintenance problem, not a design problem.

    Unfortunately, the maintenance problems are prolific.


  77. - Ann - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 8:30 pm:

    I will never forget my first time there, delivering something to some agency, when I heard a crash. Turned out to be someone taking a dive to the bottom. I’ve felt uncomfortable every time I’ve been back.


  78. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 9:15 pm:

    actually dog, as the walls that weren’t supposed to be there went up, and the doors that weren’t supposed to be there got closed, it got harder and harder for the system designed to heat and cool open spaces, to work.


  79. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 9:28 pm:

    –I will never forget my first time there, delivering something to some agency, when I heard a crash.–

    I was in the food court for one of those. Going from memory, it seems to me there were a couple or three of those early in the ballgame when access to the elevators and upper floors was looser.

    “Crash” wasn’t what I heard, but I’ll spare everyone the onomatopoeia.


  80. - foster brooks - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 9:52 pm:

    The best part of “ruuning scared” is when they go to the keys lol


  81. - Norseman - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:29 pm:

    Thankfully, I never had to experience one of these. I do remember talking to a traumatized staff member who witnessed one fly by the balcony.


  82. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:32 pm:

    The view of the food court floor from the 16th floor and the pattern of the tiles down there always looked like a target to me. Fortunately I never witnessed any jumpers, but I know people who saw more than they wanted to during lunch.

    Word, Red Heat is a horrible movie, with Ahnold and Belushi the Lesser teaming up to find common ground across cultural and political divides. But that movie helped bring about the end of the Soviet Union.

    Interesting historical fact: apparently this was the first major Hollywood production to be given permission to film in Red Square. Imagine that, of all the movies that sought permission to film in front of St. Basil’s and the Kremlin, from 1917 forward, Red Heat is the first movie the Soviets green-lighted.

    Given that, can anyone doubt that it was Jim Belushi who truly brought about the end of the Cold War? I don’t think so.

    Red Heat. It’s timeless. It’s historically significant. It’s Chicago in the 80s. What’s not to love?


  83. - Criminal Mind - Thursday, Jul 24, 14 @ 10:33 pm:

    2007 not 2000


  84. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, Jul 25, 14 @ 12:01 am:

    Schnorf is exactly right about the HVAC woes being aggravated by doors and walls being placed all over where the designers contemplated open spaces. The system was also not designed to push air at high volumes (see “stack effect” if you want to know why) which also affected the ability to control temps in a particular office or area.


  85. - wordslinger - Friday, Jul 25, 14 @ 2:34 am:

    47, just yanking your chain. Never considered you thought that Gov. Ahhnold and the sad Belushi boy were the height of Chicago cinema.

    Didn’t know that “Red Heat” led the way in perestroika and glasnost. Strange times.

    Coincidentally, I watched one of my favorites, “Reds” the other night. Beatty scouted Russia for years, they wouldn’t let him in. Their loss.

    Absolutely brilliant movie.One of the best ever. Underrated, misunderstood.

    Underrated: Show me a movie with the screenplay, the cast, the acting, the production values, the handling of the complexities of the subject done in such an honest and intelligent way. Short list.

    Misunderstood: Not a pro-commie movie, but an honest, brilliant portrayal of the heavy times, as they happened, then. Hard to do, without projecting that you knew how the story turned out.

    Listen to the featured monologues: Jack Nicholson as Eugene O’Neil, absolutely devastating about the narcisicism of the Greenich Village radicals; Maureen Stapleton as Emma Goldman, in Russia, condemning the immoral butchery and incompetence of the Bolshevic police state.

    At the center, Beatty as Reed, Keaton as Louise, in character, in real time. Just magnificent. On all levels.

    Brezhnev wouldn’t let Beatty in Russia, so what you see is Finland and Spain.

    But what a home run. Beatty takes the controls when it’s all his, and he hasn’t made many, but he can go yard. “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Heaven Can Wait,” “Dick Tracy,” “Bulworth,” “Bugsy.”

    Legend is, he’s been able to be selective and still live large because he went long on Southern Cal real estate when he was coming up as a kid actor, like Will Rogers Bob Hope, and Leo Carrillo (Pancho). Couldn’t lose.

    Allegedly going to try pulling off starring, directing, producing and writing his long-lost Howard Hughes flick.

    Dude, you’re awesome, but it’s been done. By Marty and Leo. And look in the mirror.


  86. - wordslinger - Friday, Jul 25, 14 @ 2:41 am:

    Also great Beatty movie, “Shampoo.” For a time and place, just perfect.

    What were we talking about……?


  87. - unionist - Friday, Jul 25, 14 @ 6:42 am:

    A few years ago, the state awarded the Thompson Center janitorial contract to a small cleaning contractor that didnt have the funds to float payroll. The state was inevitably late on paying its bills. All of the janitors’ paychecks bounced for a month. The janitors didnt just clean that building for free, they incurred huge financial problems and fines as a result of those bounced checks. Once the contractor finally got paid, it went bankrupt and disappeared. The state claimed no responsibility for the wage theft and rebid the contract. True story.


  88. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, Jul 25, 14 @ 8:28 am:

    Okay Schnorf - then I will bet the HVAC system is working overtime which contributes to the problem.

    Anywho, JRTC couldn’t pass OSHA inspection.


  89. - anon - Friday, Jul 25, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    Doubt that he would care if it had not been named after him. Is he offering to get votes for a tax increase?


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