Known for being the home of the world's first skyscraper, the Windy City's skyline might soon bear a new tower—the tallest in Chicago. Jahn has proposed a 110-story addition to the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago, in an effort to save the building from a proposed demolition. "The best way to save the building, and to improve it, is to re-purpose it," the firm says. Opened in 1984, the original building was designed by Jahn principal Helmut Jahn, FAIA.
In 2015, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner suggested the demolition and sale of the building. Chicago–based firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture have proposed a few ideas, one of which includes tearing down the existing structure and building a 1,700-foot-tall tower that would surpass Chicago's current tallest building, the Willis Tower.
Upon hearing about the Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill plans, Jahn put forth an alternative that preserves the Thompson Center while still improving the site. In addition to the new tower's footprint of 13,000 square feet, the firm says it will upgrade the retail space and food services in the center's atrium and maximize the 1.3 million square feet of unused space with a hotel, apartments, or condominiums. By utilizing the ground floor as an entrance to the plaza, Jahn hopes to turn the Thompson Center into a 24-hour public space without disturbing the structure of the building.
Some critics say the best idea would be to sell the Thompson Center or demolish it. Based on necessity, the Chicago Tribune's Editorial Board wrote, "The state should sell the Thompson Center. The decision about its future is best made by private owners who can assess what makes economic sense." Nevertheless, with the blueprints for the state budget still in the works, all options are being considered.
This article previous reported that the new tower will have 13,000 square feet of space, but the footprint of the tower will have 13,000 square feet of space. This article has been updated to reflect these corrections.