In 2022, Google struck a deal to buy the Loop’s James R. Thompson Center in the heart of the Loop business district for a reported $105 million.
In an announcement on Google’s The Keyword blog the tech giants then said they would renovate the Helmut Jahn-designed structure turning it into a Class A environmentally friendly office building before moving in at some point in 2026.
Nearly 18 months later with work scheduled to start in 2024, Google has released renderings via its Keyword blog showing what the downtown landmark building will look like after its $280 million redevelopment is complete.
Despite the City of Chicago granting permission to demolish the structure back in October, Google will instead seek to maintain the building’s unique form and is working with the original architecture firm JAHN on the building’s multi-million dollar redesign.
The renderings show the same iconic 17-story atrium but with a more transparent glass facade and a verdant ground-level plaza area.
“The colonnade at the base of the building will be redesigned to allow for an enhanced ground floor experience, including opportunities for more food and beverage retail and seasonal activations of the plaza,” reads Google’s official announcement. “Covered terraces along three levels of the southeast perimeter will offer new greenspaces.”
In addition to paying homage to the building’s original design, Google aims to make it far more sustainable and plans to run the building entirely on electric energy according to Google’s Chicago site lead Karen Sauder.
The new triple-pane glass exterior hopes to improve the thermal performance of the building but Google will also replace outdated heating and cooling equipment with high-efficiency systems.
“At Google, we’ve set an ambitious goal to operate on 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030. This means running our offices and data centers on clean energy, every hour of every day. That’s why last year, when we announced our intent to purchase the Thompson Center, we also pledged to upgrade it to a LEED Platinum, all-electric building.”
The building’s aesthetics, designed by famed architect Helmut Jahn, have long been the subject of criticism since it first opened in 1985 and those to frequent it have noted the heating and air conditions due to its soaring interior.
Many, however, have fought to preserve the building when it came under the threat of demolition with preservationists even pushing to landmark it and getting it added to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of endangered historic places.
While promising to honor the postmodern legacy of the disparaged building, Google also recognized the importance of its unparalleled public transit access “as the only building in the city where six L train lines converge, easily connecting Chicago’s South, West, and North sides.”
“In 2000, Google’s Chicago office consisted of two people in River North. Now, that presence has grown to more than 1,800 employees in Fulton Market,” Google stated last year also emphasizing its deepening commitment to the company’s long-term presence in the city.”
Loop residents will see fencing go up around the building at 100 W. Randolph St in early 2024 before work begins which will reportedly take “several years” to complete.Read the official announcement at Google’s Keyword blog.
[Featured image courtesy of JAHN]