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Documentary Hopes to Save Chicago's 'Starship'

Thursday, December 7, 2017

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A new short documentary, “Starship Chicago,” by filmmaker Nathan Eddy, is seeking to save the city’s polarizing James R. Thompson Center from being sold and, presumably, demolished.

The 16-minute video features interviews with building designer Helmut Jahn, postmodernist colleague Stanley Tigerman, architecture critics Blair Kamin and Lynn Becker, and former Illinois Gov. James “Big Jim” Thompson. Their words are paired with slow-moving shots of the building that was one of the first with curved glass (lending its nickname) in the city known for its architectural risk-taking.

Starship Chicago from Nathan Eddy on Vimeo.

At the time, the curved mass of glass and giant atrium (which caused a greenhouse effect for those working in the building) weren’t the only aspects to draw criticism as others targeted the red(ish)-white-and-blue color palette.

Since the state-owned building’s opening in 1985, Illinois has been tasked with the upkeep, which has eventually led to such disrepair that Gov. Bruce Rauner estimates it needs $327 million in repairs. Selling it would alleviate the state of the bill and make its fate someone else’s responsibility.

Jahn has since put forth his own proposal, which adds a tower in the back of the property and repurposes the “Starship,” which is what the majority of architectural preservationists would like to see happen.


Tagged categories: Government; Historic Structures; Preservation; Renovation

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