Thompson Center advocacy continues


Michele Racioppi


Docomomo US staff


News, Advocacy, StarshipChicago, Chicago, Thompson Center
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Since we last reported back in April of this year, when a number of high profile groups including Docomomo US signed on to a letter in support of preserving the Thompson Center, it seems there has been a lot of buzz about our favorite downtown starship. 

To start things off, in April the State of Illinois passed a resolution allowing an RFP to be issued and officially begin the process of selling the property. Four firms have now submitted bids for the job of managing the sale. A state spokesperson said a winner will be announced "in the near future."

While the state is busy with the RFP, three Chicago residents have been working to educate and build public support for preserving what they call the "Postmodern People's Palace." The James R. Thompson Historical Society, formed by Elizabeth Blasius, Jonathan Solomon, and AJ LaTrace, aims to:

  • Generate new affinities for the JRTC among Chicagoans and others by leading tours and producing programming and activities that invites the public to learn about the building and share stories about their experiences.
  • Advocate for the physical preservation of the building while fully recognizing and understanding that the sale and demolition of the JRTC is a possible outcome, and to use its case as an opportunity to propose expanded preservation outcomes that include cultural value of the structure, the stories within it, how and by whom, and to whom they are told.
  • Assemble, catalog, and share historic material regarding the JRTC, including photographs, videos, texts, and official documents related to the building’s construction and occupation, as well as personal recollections of those who have worked in or visited the building.

This October they led their first set of tours, including one for Docomomo US Tour Day (there is still one more scheduled for this Thursday). The tours were well attended and also generated some some publicity for the effort. 

In the midst of these events, Maurice Cox, Chicago's new planning director, sat down for his first interview with Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune and gave his two cents on the situation. When asked about the Thompson Center, Cox stated that he's a "preservationist at heart" and is open to a previously proposed idea of modifying the building by adding a high rise tower. 

Docomomo US and our local Chicago chapter will continue to monitor the process as it unfolds. In the meantime, you can still sign this petition to support landmarking this Pomo icon.