James R. Thompson Center Sold to Google

In revised deal, Chicago’s James R. Thompson Center (JRTC) will be sold to Google. The transaction has reached the public intent-to-purchase stage, with tech giant Googlefinding an iconic Chicago structure to serve as flexible office space. Google currently operates an office of more than 1,800 employees in Fulton Market, in downtown Chicago well west of the Loop. For more than thirty years, the Thompson Center has been the State of Illinois’ chief in-house office location within the city of Chicago. As such, the State has been the recognizable building’s sole office occupant. After the transition represented by this week’s announcement is completed and the remaining State employees leave the Thompson Center, Google will be the sole occupant, and will control visual rights to the structure’s unusual layout and iconography. Google will pay $105 million for the building.


The sale announcement marks the successful end of a push by House Republicans, led by Leader Jim Durkin, to reduce or eliminate the State’s space in the physically troubled Thompson Center. The unusually shaped and glassed-in structure was architecturally designed by the late Helmut Jahn. The Thompson Center opened in 1985, with the building subsequently named after then-Illinois Governor James R. Thompson. However, the office building had chronically leaky windows and major HVAC issues. Google is expected to perform a gut rehab on the building, alleviating its problems while enabling the preservation of its architectural vision. State workers are moving, or have moved, to other office spaces within downtown Chicago. The Thompson Center sale announcement was made on Wednesday, July 27.