VIDEO: Starship Chicago | The State of Illinois Center by Architect Helmut Jahn
Architect Helmut Jahn’s kaleidoscopic, controversial State of Illinois Center in Chicago, which shocked the world when it opened in 1985, may not be long for this world. Today the building is a run down rusty shadow of its former self, occupying a lucrative downtown block and deemed expendable by the cash-strapped state legislature. Despite initial construction flaws and hefty refurbishment costs, this singular architectural vision of an open, accessible, and inspiring civic building—defined by its iconic, soaring atrium--remains intact. Four years after the stinging loss of brutalist icon Prentice Women’s Hospital, Chicago preservationists, along with the building’s original champion, Governor James R. Thompson, are gearing up for a major battle to save the city’s most provocative architectural statement.