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Ex Gov. Thompson Calls Namesake Building a "Scrap Heap"

Former governor says Thompson Center's condition sends wrong message about state government

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Ex Gov. Thompson Calls Namesake Building a "Scrap Heap"

Former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson

The condition of the James R. Thompson Center, the foremost state government office building in Chicago, is getting some grief from former Illinois Gov. James R. Thompson.

"It looks like a scrap heap," the former governor told Crain's Chicago Business in a story published online Wednesday. "It's terrible, just terrible."

Thompson noted the carpeting, which is patched with duct tape, looks like it's the original floor covering.

"They still have the same stuff we put in when the building opened in 1985," Thompson said. "And we did cheap carpeting then to stay within the budget. But it wasn't supposed to last 30 years." Thompson said he's wondering what message it sends about state government when visitors see the lack of maintenance.

The building, designed by architect Helmut Jahn, has been controversial from the start. When it opened, some hated its blue-and-salmon glass exterior. Others complained about its bulky shape.

Two years after it opened, the state of Illinois sued the building's architects and engineers because summer temperatures exceeded 110 degrees in some workspaces. The problems eventually were fixed and the building remained a stop on Chicago architecture tours for decades.

Crain's reported that lately there have been complaints about leaky ceilings, discolored walls and rusted metal panels.

Illinois Department of Central Management Services operates the building. A spokeswoman told the business publication that some work is scheduled for the fall.

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