Opened in May 1985 as the State of Illinois Center, the building was renamed in 1993 to honor former Illinois Governor James R. Thompson. It sits on an entire city block bordered by Lake Street, LaSalle, Randolph and Clark Streets in the heart of downtown Chicago.
Commissioned by the State of Illinois and Governor Thompson at the time, the glass and steel structure’s open floor plan and massive open atrium are intended to be architectural metaphors for transparency and open government in action. It was designed by architect, Helmut Jahn.
The 17-story, all-glass exterior curves and slopes facing its plaza on the southeast corner of the property, across from the Daley Center and Chicago’s City Hall. Visitors to the Thompson Center's interior can see all 17 floors layered part way around the building's immense skylit atrium.
In addition to offices for State agencies, the building is also home to three floors of restaurants and shops, and 13 floors of balconies that surround the 160-foot high rotunda. The Concourse level features an inlaid marble rosette at its center. The building boasts a unique all glass elevator system and massive interior sub-basement vehicle turntable to accommodate trucks and deliveries servicing the facility.