Google releases renderings of Thompson Center headquarters reconstruction

ByRob Hughes WLS logo
Wednesday, December 13, 2023
Google releases renderings of new downtown Chicago headquarters
New images of what Chicago's Thompson Center will look like under Google have been released.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- New images of what Chicago's Thompson Center will look like under Google have been released.

Renderings of the construction plans were released by the company on Wednesday.

Google announced its intent to buy the Thompson Center last year. In October, the city granted a permit to demolish the current structure.

The company is now working with the building's original architects to update it while maintaining its iconic form.

"Oh, I like that. Very modern," said Chicago resident Barbara Outlaw, in reaction to the images.

The building was originally designed by renowned architect Helmut Jahn.

SEE ALSO | Thompson Center architect Helmut Jahn killed in Campton Hills bike accident

"This was a transformative building for downtown Chicago, and it was considered by Jahn to be the second state capitol, in the state's most populous city," Preservation Chicago Executive Director Ward Miller said.

The Thompson Center officially opened in 1985 and was home to the State of Illinois Offices. As recently as 2020, Preservation Chicago had designated the Thompson Center as one of the city's most endangered buildings.

"If we were to lose this building, it would be like losing a great Chicago treasure, and a world treasure," Miller said.

Google recognized the importance of the Thompson Center. The site is the only location in the city where six L train lines converge, connecting Chicago's North, West and South Sides.

"We're so transit rich here in the Loop, so I think other companies are going to see that too," Chicago Loop Alliance President & CEO Michael Edwards said. "Being able to come down in a safe way on public transit and come right to your office, that's pretty special."

CBRE said office vacancy in the central business district for the third quarter of 2023 reached just under 24%. As office vacancy continues to be an issue post-pandemic, local business leaders hope Google will impact the Loop the same way it did Fulton Market, where an injection of 1,800 employees has served as a catalyst for new growth.

"It's going to bring a lot of jobs, it's going to revitalize downtown and bring new energy downtown more foot traffic, and that will help the economic recovery of the central business district," Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jack Lavin said.

Construction fencing is expected to start going up early next year, but it will be a few more years before Google plans to be operational at the site, with the tech giant targeting 2026.