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Hopefully, the Thompson Center remodeling project will get rid of that “kind of creepy” vibe

Monday, May 16, 2022

* WGN

The Governor’s office moved out of the James R. Thompson Center Friday, as many staffers emptying the 16th floor say they are happy to move on.

Since 1985, the postmodern Thompson Center has loomed above Clark Street like a giant greenhouse. Inside, even tourists are saying what state employees have said for decades: the building needs a major update.

“We were just talking about how kind of creepy it feels inside actually,” Korina Martin, a tourist from Boston said.

For the Governor’s Chief of Staff, it feels like a building lost in time.

“If you could picture you grandparent’s rec room like circa 1975 where nothing has been changed or updated. It’s too hot in the summertime, it’s too cold in the wintertime,” Anne Caprara said.

* This thread by Caprara was priceless


- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments
  1. - Tood Aloo - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:54 am:

    The stairwells between the concourse and second floor were live lively places.


  2. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:56 am:

    ==The stairwells between the concourse and second floor were live lively places.==

    I hear “Running Scared” had quite a lively scene in the concourse too.


  3. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:58 am:

    Anyone know if the food court and stores downstairs are coming or going with the JRTC remodeling? Is Blago’s favorite JRTC restaurant (Panda Express) going to stay or go?


  4. - Chuck - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:59 am:

    “the building needs a major update”

    A few sticks of dynamite would do the trick wonderfully.


  5. - Cheryl44 - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:08 am:

    The building has good bones. The color scheme is awful and the offices really should have had walls. I hope it can be rehabbed to something usable.


  6. - Cheryl44 - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:09 am:

    And the whole thing needs to be rewired. It needed that since it was built.


  7. - NIU Grad - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:09 am:

    The public is going to lose out on having a centralized state building right in the loop. With all of the Governor’s departmental offices moving west and only a few service-oriented offices found in the Bilandic, Chicago is losing a visible State of Illinois presence. I’m hoping they make changes to the new building to make it seem more like a publicly accessible government building and not just an office.


  8. - JoanP - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:13 am:

    Caprara’s thread may be one of the funniest Twitter threads ever. Some of the comments are comedy gold.


  9. - Sir Reel - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:24 am:

    Think “blimp hanger.”


  10. - Joe Bidenopolous - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:26 am:

    I went in for a meeting with an agency director once, and the conference room had a unique feature. There were built-in filing cabinets along the wall and apparently during a remodel, someone decided to build a new wall *right through one of the filing cabinets*.

    I asked the Director about it and he said they couldn’t get the file doors open and they had no idea what was inside.


  11. - MisterJayEm - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:30 am:

    For (at least) the last 30 years, the Thompson Center has had the mise-en-scène of a Stanley Kubrick film.

    Everything in the building is just a bit off and a just little eerie.

    Don’t get me wrong — Kubrick films are great pieces of art, but ain’t nobody wants to go to work in one every day.

    – MrJM


  12. - Jak Tichenor - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:35 am:

    Caprara’s thread is hilarious, especially wondering who died on one of the loveseats! Ewwww! I remember tripping over the duct tape that was holding what was left of the carpet together one on of the upper concourses a few years ago while I was carrying a TV camera.


  13. - Louis G Atsaves - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:37 am:

    They would put up office walls and doors so that some offices had heating and airconditioning vents, and others would not. There were electrical plugs on the floor that acted as holes in the flooring. The carpeting for the most part was original and frayed.

    Each day an event took place in the lobby or open space area of the food court with microphones and music. The auditorium experienced massive water leaks involving the ceilings and walls. The microphone system there was on its last legs, unlike the mikes used in the open space areas.

    And after all that, the building was sold with the State signing leases for half the space after the major remodeling is completed? And paying more than what they sold the building for?

    Sheesh.

    As you can tell, I was never a fan of the building and I was in it nearly every single work day since its opening.


  14. - Streator Curmudgeon - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 11:51 am:

    Caprara’s photos remind me of the sets from the original Star Trek TV series. We thought they were futuristic in the ’60s, but they seem laughable today.

    That was one funny Twitter thread.


  15. - Annonin' - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 12:03 pm:

    As a work space it was always a disaster
    As hallmark to the modern designers we will let those who idolize Mr. Jahn’s work step in. Neglect was a key tool of many IL governors since the building was opened in mid-70s. Now we can look toward the amazing decision to remodel the Springfield Armory. A deserted monstrosity is needed by no one.


  16. - Facts Matter - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 12:04 pm:

    One of the hearing rooms at the Department of Revenue had no ventilation ducts and the doors had to be closed during hearings to protect taxpayer confidentiality. Scheduling a hearing in that room was one way in which to move things along a bit more quickly.


  17. - Mr K - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 12:11 pm:

    Best thing about Thompson Center was filming ‘Running Scared’ there in 1986.

    Once filming concluded it was all downhill.


  18. - Drake Mallard - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 12:19 pm:

    As an example of how ridiculous the place is- there are no existing blueprints of the electrical, plumbing and other technical aspects.
    The AG office kept requesting copies for the lawsuits that followed the opening, and they never returned them to CMS because they lost them.
    As if the AG lawyers would even know what they were looking at - but they requested them to make it look like they were actually doing something.


  19. - bkhartbnjo - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 1:28 pm:

    I have fond memories of a small restaurant on the 2nd floor in which they would daily roast several turkeys. You could get really good fresh turkey sandwiches. I mean really-really good sandwiches.


  20. - JoanP - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 1:41 pm:

    Anyone who thinks Joe Bidenopolous Is making that up about the file cabinet should look at the Twitter comments. There’s a pic.


  21. - Galway Bay - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 2:39 pm:

    So much tape holding down carpet seams it started to look like it was part of the original pattern


  22. - cermak_rd - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 2:48 pm:

    Fuses? Not circuit breakers?


  23. - Give Us Barabbas - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 2:57 pm:

    I don’t care for the criticism of the standing public art displays and sculptures around the building. Art is subjective and speaks to each person differently, but I think it was great that the state required a certain amount of art in and around the building. Thompson was a huge supporter of the arts and when the SOIC was new, it was a showcase of avant-garde pieces that spoke to and about society and government. We need that in public spaces, to foster deeper thinking about what we have to achieve collectively.


  24. - Retired Lobster - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 4:14 pm:

    The building was a disaster from the day the doors opened. Anyone remember employees using beach umbrellas at their desks to shade the sun? No one will ever convince me Pate Philip was not the driving force behind naming that lemon after Gov. Thompson…as a parting shot.


  25. - Anonymous - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:26 pm:

    My favorite memory is tripping on a “discontinuity” in the floor in our office area and twisting my ankle. Barely missed crashing into some lateral file cabinets. Honorable mention to the day the temp hit 87F in my office…


  26. - stateandlake - Monday, May 16, 22 @ 10:27 pm:

    Sorry, Anonymous at 10:26p was me. It’s late.


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