Construction underway to transform James R. Thompson Center into Google HQ

Chicago Construction News staff writer

Construction has started on a project that will turn Chicago’s James R. Thompson Center into the new headquarters for Google, a project announced in July 2022 when the company bought the iconic building for $105 million.

The general contractor is Clark Construction. Chicago-based design firm Jahn, which was the building’s original architect, is designing the project.

Mike Rushke, of Capri Investment Group, thanked the construction team for developing the winning bid, and the Yan architectural team that “convinced me that we can make this building, preserve its architectural integrity and still transform it into one of the best buildings in the world.

“To Clark Construction and heir team who worked tirelessly with us to bid the construction work, including as you can well imagine, many requested changes and refinements that the Google team asked for over the last 12 months.”The original building was designed by architect Jahn and opened in 1985 as the State of Illinois Center. As part of the acquisition, Google will pay $30 million to the state,

“With this project … state government has been able to deliver on our goals, putting this property in the hands of private business, bringing jobs and revitalization to this area of the Loop and delivering for the taxpayer. Whether you’re in the public sector or in the business world, that is what we would all call a win-win-win,” Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday.

Elected officials and developers gathered at the site to launch the $280 million project.

“With the Thompson Center we saw a chance to revitalize the Loop, but also take this iconic building that some thought of tearing down, and instead, make the renovations necessary to respectfully steward it into the 21st century,” said Google Chicago site lead Karen Sauder during a news conference at the Thompson Center.

The renovations include upgrading the building to all-electric, a bird-friendly design, adding new gathering and green space, and expanding the ground floor public atrium.


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