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Monday, January 15, 2007

The State of Illinois Center

posted by on January 15 at 14:41 PM

Wandering around downtown Chicago Friday afternoon, I walked by the State of Illinois Center—a huge, squat… monstrosity… that was inflicted on the citizens of Chicago in 1985 by the state of Illinois. When I saw it again I thought, “I wonder what the fuck Charles would make of this?” The State of Illinois Center sits across the street from Chicago’s City Hall, a much lovelier bit of civic architecture. Unlike every other building in Chicago’s loop, the State of Illinois Center is wider than it is tall and it’s, well, here it is…


It doesn’t have that weird crease down the center—that’s just from my two photos pasted together. The exterior of the building is smooth, sloped, and curved. (Click here for a larger image.)

And here’s the inevitable bad public art…


And here’s the interior of the building—a wide, round space. Very… uh… vaginal, this shaft. Or something.


Anyway, Charles? Your thoughts?

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I believe the State of Illinois building has been called the James R. Thompson Center (after the former governor) since at least the early 1990s.

As for the building itself, it was really cool in the late 1980s, I remember.

Posted by horatiosanzserif | January 15, 2007 3:00 PM

One of the most stunning public buildings in America. Your pictures do not do it justice. It was used in the final shoot-out scene in "Running Scared". The film from 1986 with the late, great Gregory Hines. It sits on the site of the old Hotel Sherman which can be seen in "The Blues Brothers" near the start when they are driving down State after the mall chase.

Posted by ektachrome | January 15, 2007 3:16 PM

Gotta say, when I was there last summer I was kinda impressed by it. More from the inside than the outside though.

Posted by BFDS | January 15, 2007 3:59 PM

Some one should be shoot for putting this turd where the Hotel Sherman belongs.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | January 15, 2007 5:01 PM

Our Day of Silence/Night of Noise thing was there this spring; I went with my school's GSA. It's actually really cool if you go down to the first floor, at the bottom of that shaft thing, lie down and look up.
We wanted to ride the elevators, too, but the security guard was being an asshole, until one girl's dad, a towering liberal monstrosity (in the best sense of the word) in a business suit went and had a talk with him.

Posted by Veronika | January 15, 2007 5:50 PM

I got arrested there in the early 1990s during an ACT-UP protest, so I gotta lotta sentimentality going with the Thompson Center.

Also, it looks like the Galactic Senate from Star Wars

Posted by Boomer | January 15, 2007 7:03 PM

Oh dude... I hate the person who does those huge ugly black-and-white public sculptures. There's one in Houston that has some stripes of red and blue tossed in, so it matches perfectly the color scheme of the local bus system, which has earned it the nickname "the Metro crash."

Posted by L | January 15, 2007 9:23 PM

This is ,in my opinion, the ugliest building in Chicago. With all the great architecture in this city, I can not imagine how this monstrosity came to be. It looks like a space ship landed and then the Illinois government decided "what the hell" and moved offices into it because of lack of space in Downtown! And don't even get me started on that god-awful piece of "art" in front!If nothing else,at least the hideousness of these two entities complement each other!

Posted by Scott | January 15, 2007 10:42 PM

i love that dubuffett statue.

Dan nearly bursts into tears with every step he takes in chicago, folks. imagine walking around a city and getting this kind of download every second of every minute....

it's also 20 degrees, with, yes, rain (don't know how that's possible, but it is happening!). the dry-ish air is aggravating my sinuses.

and the public transport (the el) is woefully underfunded and totally slow, with breaks in the main-lines (the blue and brown) due to overdue and over schedule fixes. so much for mass transit in the big city.

i LOVE chicago.

Posted by Dan's Boyfriend | January 16, 2007 7:10 AM

Huh, the interior looks like it was designed by Ken Adams (production designer for the early Bond films) - I mean, can't you just picture Ernst Stavros Blofeld launching a missile from inside this thing?

Posted by COMTE | January 16, 2007 10:37 AM

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