“Our proposal would convert the hall into a new pool with super slides and other fun amenities,” said David Radar, designer at Perkins & Will. “There would be a splash gate where the current DMV currently exists.”
The water park concept is one of three finalists in a competition sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Center. The aim is to transfer the building into the 21st century, to preserve it as a public space and to protect it from demolition, since it is for sale.
“Number one was to keep this atrium. Get these elevators. This is a wonderful experience as soon as you step into the Thompson Center, ”said Travis Rukamp, Chicago Architecture Club.
Loved by some, hated by others, the Thompson Center is a building that has always evoked strong emotions. Its architect Helmut Jahn died in a bicycle accident in May last year, a week after the building was put up for sale. He once joked that the structure cemented its reputation overseas but ruined it in Chicago. Conservationists are now desperately trying to save it.
“This is our chance to be really creative,” said Ward Miller of Preservation Chicago. “Make it a true city landmark and travel destination, much like Millennium Park, which was thought to be an idea for the sky 30 years ago.”
And while there is no guarantee that the prospective buyer of the Thompson Center will adopt any of the ideas put forward, the backers hope they will at least move the city and state to mark the building as a condition for sale.
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