On June 25, 2021, after tremendous advocacy efforts on the part of local and national preservation groups and individuals, the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council voted 10-2 in support of the James R. Thompson Center nomination to the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
The nomination was commission by Landmarks Illinois and prepared by Preservation Futures, with support from a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
If the nomination is eventually approved, it would provide incentives for developers to restore the building via state and federal historic tax credits. Governor Pritzker and two state agencies, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Department of Central Management Services "are on record opposing any recognition for the building, which state officials have repeatedly called 'oversized, outdated and expensive,' ” according to the Chicago Sun Times. The Stae is moving forward with its plans to vacate the building by April 2022 and the RFP for interested buyers is due at the end of August.
The next step is for the Director of the Department of Natural Resources to nominate the building. If they choose not to, an outside group may do so.
In the meantime, the Chicago Architectural Club and the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) are calling for new, creative visions for the Thompson Center for the 2021 Chicago Prize competition and the CAC has also launched an exhibition on the architect of the Thompson Center, Helmut Jahn.
Docomomo US is grateful to all those who have worked hard in this years-long effort, including Preservation Chicago, Landmarks Illinois, Docomomo US/Chicago, Preservation Futures, the James R. Thompson Historical Society, Society for Architectural Historians, the Chicago Architecture Center, and many others.
As we celebrate this victory, we will keep our eye on the future and continue our efforts, including working as a member of the coalition to advance the City of Chicago local landmark nomination, to ensure the Postmodern People's Palace is preserved.
"State Board recommends Thompson Center on National Register," Landmarks Illinois, Preservation News Roundup June 2021.
"State panel backs historic listing for Thompson Center, adding incentives to preserve it," Chicago Sun Times, June 25, 2021.
"State officials back Thompson Center nomination to National Historic Register," Urbanize Chicago, June 25, 2021.