‘Starship Chicago’ Shines Light On Architectural Importance of Thompson Center

The James R. Thompson Center (JRTC) is located at 100 W. Randolph Street in the famous Loop district of Chicago. A 16-minute documentary is leading the fight to save this important piece of postmodern architecture.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the documentary “Starship Chicago,” is a showcase of the impressive stylings and architectural decisions made in constructing this Chicago structure. The building, developed by Helmut Jahn, is 17 stories highland made its debut in 1985 under the moniker, State of Illinois Building. The center was renamed in 1993 in order to honor former Governor James R. Thompson.

Its worth, nearly twice the original estimate, is approximately $172 million.

Filmmaker Nathan Eddy released his movie as a bid to protect the building from being demolished. Gov. Bruce Rauner believes that the building should be sold off and demolished because, as he insists, its repair expenses now exceed $325 million.

Though demolition professionals nowadays often recycle more than 90% of a building, structures that are popular within the design and architecture communities are revered much more than traditional buildings.

Eddy’s film hopes to capture the importance of this building and how big of a void a demolition project would leave.

“I wanted to make an architecture documentary that is personable, funny, and overall human,” said Eddy, the 33-year-old who currently lives in Berlin. “It’s very hard to translate the language of glass, steel and stone into genuine human emotion, but if you try hard enough you can do that.”

Throughout all of Chicago, the Thompson Center has been regarded as one the best examples of postmodern architecture — which was created in the 1970s — and is a direct rejection of many of the utopian ideals of modernism.

“The building was an opportunity statement of representing government building and connecting it to the city,” added Jahn, the Chicago-based architect who spoke in Eddy’s documentary. It wasn’t just another office building. It shouldn’t have been another office building. The fact is in terms of the art of architecture at that point, the building was ahead of its time.”