James R. Thompson center

  Photo by Ken Lund

Photo by Ken Lund

100 W. Randolph Street, Chicago
Helmut Jahn, 1985

A glassy reinterpretation of a traditional state capitol building in shades of pink and blue and with a sliced off dome, the James R. Thompson Center represents the high water mark of Post Modernism in Chicago. The interior – with its mind-boggling 17-story atrium ringed by offices – was intended to embody the concept of open government. The building was the climax of architect Helmut Jahn’s early Chicago years and intensely controversial. It still is. Today, it is under threat of demolition after the state announced plans to sell the structure. Jahn, meanwhile, has since gone on to global fame as a designer of airports and other large-scale projects in Europe and Asia. The Center’s broad plaza, prominently marked by Jean Dubuffet’s whimsical sculpture Monument with Standing Beast, continues a three-block path of great public artwork plazas, from 69 W. Washington St. with Miro’s Moon, Sun, and One Star, to The Picasso at Daley Plaza to Thompson Center’s plaza.