Two potential buyers have submitted proposals to purchase the James R. Thompson Center, the state of Illinois’ controversial Loop headquarters, officials said Friday.
The names of the bidders and their plans for the future of the 1.2 million-square-foot glass-and-steel structure designed by famed architect Helmut Jahn were not disclosed. State law allows officials to keep the proposals under wraps until a winning bidder is selected.
Facing an April 5 deadline to sell a building admired by preservationists but reviled by many state workers and amateur architecture critics, the Department of Central Management Services is aiming to choose a buyer by the end of the year and sign a purchase agreement by February.
The bids, which were originally due in August before the state pushed back the deadline, come a week after the State Historic Preservation Office submitted a nomination to the National Park Service to list the Thompson Center on the National Register of Historic Places.
Pritzker’s move sparked outrage from preservationists who’ve called Thompson Center “iconic” and said it deserves landmark protection and creative ideas for reuse.
In September, the Chicago Architecture Center and the Chicago Architectural Club picked the winners of a global design competition for the Thompson Center. The top submissions transformed the steel frame, red and blue accents building into a waterpark, a “vertical Loop” of homes and commercial space with a rooftop vegetable garden, or a prototype building school.
Organizers of the contest hoped the results might influence discussions about whether the Thompson Center can be saved.
While I would love to see Scott Kennedy’s dream of a waterpark become reality, I’m kinda doubting the contest did much good. I suppose we’ll see.