High Profile Organizations Sign Letter of Support for Thompson Center


Michele Racioppi


Docomomo US staff


Newsletter, Advocacy, StarshipChicago, Thompson Center
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Over the past two years, a heated debate has been going on between the State of Illinois, the City of Chicago, and preservationists over what should happen to Helmut Jahn's postmodern James R. Thompson Center. Recent developments show no sign that this will be over any time soon. 

Following its listing on Preservation Chicago's "Most Endangered" list, in March a group of ten high-profile preservation, architecture and history organizations, including Docomomo US and Docomomo US/Chicago signed on to a letter calling for the State of Illinois to support the landmarking of the Thompson Center. The signatories include: 

  • Docomomo US/Chicago
  • Landmarks Illinois
  • Preservation Chicago
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • AIA Chicago
  • Docomomo US
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Society of Architectural Historians
  • ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on 20th Century Heritage


The groups cite the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, which has determined that the building is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Although young by some landmarking standards, the Thompson Center would also qualify under at least six, if not all seven, criteria of the Chicago Landmarks Ordinance. 

Unfortunately, in early April, Governor Pritzker made the official announcement that the building would be put up for sale. Whether or not the building is to be preserved, the site poses numerous challenges for redevelopment, including the retainment of the existing CTA station and current retailers in the building whose lease expires in 2034. Even Jahn, the original architect, has weighed in with his ideas

To learn more about this site and efforts to save it, read our coverage of the #SaveOurStarship campaign, and watch Nathan Eddy's film Starship Chicago, which won a 2018 Modernism in America Award for Advocacy. 

You can also sign the change.org petition supporting the landmarking of the Thompson Center.