James R. Thompson Center

James R. Thompson Center is a postmodern-style government building located in the heart of downtown Chicago, Illinois. It was built in 1985 and designed by architect Helmut Jahn. Until 2022, the building had served as the headquarters for various state agencies, including the Illinois Governor's Office, the Illinois Attorney General's Office, and the Illinois Department of Revenue.

The design of the building is characterized by its unique shape and distinctive blue-green reflective glass exterior. The building is 17 stories tall and covers over 1.2 million square feet of space. The interior of the building features a large open atrium that stretches from the ground floor to the roof, providing natural light and a sense of spaciousness.

Over the years, the building has become a landmark of Chicago and has been featured in numerous movies and television shows. However, the building has also been the subject of controversy due to its high operating costs and maintenance issues.

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Why Visit James R. Thompson Center?

  1. Architecture: The James R. Thompson Center is a must-see for architecture enthusiasts. Its unique design and fascinating reflective glass exterior make it stand out among the other buildings in downtown Chicago. The interior atrium is also a sight to behold, with its open space and natural light.
  2. Function: Designed as a secondary capitol complex, the building had served as the headquarters for various state agencies, including the Illinois Attorney General's office and the Illinois Department of Revenue – before it was sold to Google in 2022. In the near future, the complex will undergo a major renovation.
  3. Public Art: The building houses several pieces of public art, including a large mural by artist Richard Haas that depicts the history of Chicago. There are also several sculptures and installations throughout the building.
  4. Location: The James R. Thompson Center is located in the heart of downtown Chicago and is easily accessible by public transportation. You can combine a visit to the building with other downtown attractions, such as Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago.
  5. Movie Location: The building has been featured in several movies and television shows, including The Batman, The Watcher, and The Kid Who Loved Christmas. Fans of these movies can visit the building and see where their favorite scenes were filmed.
  6. History: The building was named after James R. Thompson, who served as the Governor of Illinois from 1977 to 1991. Learn more about Thompson's contributions to the state of Illinois by visiting the public areas of the building.
  7. Photography: The building's unique architecture and interior design make it a popular location for photographers. You can capture stunning photos of the building's exterior and interior atrium.

Best places to visit near the James R. Thompson Center

  • Millennium Park
Located just a few blocks east of the Thompson Center, Millennium Park is a must-see destination with stunning architecture, world-renowned public art installations, and plenty of green space to relax.

  • Chicago Riverwalk
Just a couple blocks north of the complex, the Chicago Riverwalk offers breathtaking views of the city skyline and a variety of outdoor dining options.

  • Art Institute of Chicago
Located across Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world's leading art museums, with an extensive collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and American art.

  • Magnificent Mile
Just a few blocks north of the Thompson Center, the Magnificent Mile is one of Chicago's premier shopping destinations, with a wide range of upscale retailers, department stores, and boutiques.

  • Willis Tower
Located just a few blocks southwest of the center, the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, offers incredible views of the city from its Skydeck observation deck on the 103rd floor.

  • Chicago Theatre
Two blocks east of the Thompson Center, the Chicago Theatre is an iconic landmark of the city's theater district, offering a range of live performances and events.

  • Navy Pier
A short ride east of the Thompson Center, Navy Pier is a popular destination for visitors with a variety of entertainment options, including rides, restaurants, and the Chicago Children's Museum.

  • Grant Park
Grant Park is a large urban park with plenty of green space, walking trails, and popular attractions like the Buckingham Fountain. The park is located right next to Millennium Park.

  • The Field Museum
A 13 minutes' drive south of the Thompson Center, the Field Museum is one of the world's leading natural history museums, with extensive collections of fossils, animal specimens, and cultural artifacts.

  • Adler Planetarium
The Adler Planetarium in Northerly Island Park offers a range of interactive exhibits and displays focused on astronomy and space exploration.
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    What is James R. Thompson Center made of?
    The building's design has been described as postmodern, with elements of neoclassical architecture and a futuristic feel. In order to construct the Thompson Center, single-paned, curved glass panels were used, which required a more expensive cooling system than it was originally planned. The interior of the building features an expansive 17-story atrium, which is filled with natural light and surrounded by colorful walls and architectural features. The atrium is supported by a series of steel trusses and features glass elevators, escalators, and balconies.