Google has called Chicago home since 2000, and we’re proud that our growth here over the past two decades has contributed to the city emerging as one of the nation’s most diverse and vibrant tech hubs. Chicago is not only where many of our partners and customers across the Midwest are based, the city is also home to a deep and growing bench of world-class researchers in emerging fields like AI. It’s why we continue to invest here, and why last year we announced our intent to purchase the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago after it’s redeveloped.
Chicagoans will soon see construction activity at the site of the Thompson Center, starting with fencing going up around the perimeter early next year. Before that happens, we wanted to provide a first look at our plans for this iconic building.
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.
A respectful design evolution
When we set out to redevelop the Thompson Center with The Prime Group and Capri Investment Group, it was important to us that we honor the postmodern legacy of the building. We have a long history of reimagining old buildings and giving them a new life as a Google office — like Pier 57 in New York City and the Arnulfpost in Munich, Germany. Not only is it a sustainable way to create offices, but it also honors the history of the communities we call home.
For the Thompson Center, we’re working with the building’s original architects at Jahn to help bring the design into the 21st century while maintaining its iconic form. The Thompson Center’s signature 17-story, light-filled atrium will remain. Additionally, the covered 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.
When it opened, the Thompson Center was intended to be a new kind of gathering space for Chicagoans. After all, it’s the only building in the city where six L train lines converge — connecting Chicago’s South, West and North sides. With a new and improved CTA experience, the Thompson Center will continue to serve commuters and will be perfectly positioned to welcome current and future employees from every corner of Chicago. And our hope is that this reimagined building becomes something more: a thriving community destination for all Chicagoans in a revitalized Loop neighborhood.
The Thompson Center’s original architects at Jahn will help bring the building’s design into the 21st century while maintaining its iconic form. The Thompson Center’s signature, 17-story, light-filled atrium will remain.
A more sustainable building
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. One of the important steps we can take to achieve this goal is to make our offices require less energy in the first place. 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.
For a building like the Thompson Center, this isn’t easy. In order to achieve the efficiency gains we’re targeting, the building’s facade and internal systems have to be completely replaced. The new triple-pane glass exterior will improve both the thermal performance of the building and the comfort of those inside by requiring less energy to heat and cool. Additionally, it will modernize the way the building looks, and maximize natural daylight and views. We’ll also replace outdated heating and cooling equipment with high-efficiency systems that are capable of managing Chicago’s famously varied seasons.
Covered terraces along three levels of the southeast perimeter will offer new greenspaces. With more natural light, access to greenspace, and biophilic design elements that borrow from nature, the original design’s ode to transparency and openness will live on.
We look forward to stewarding the Thompson Center into the 21st century while preserving the iconic architectural form. These types of improvements take several years to complete; we’re excited about what this project symbolizes for the greater Chicago community and will share more about our plans in the future.