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A screening of Nathan Eddy’s new short film “Starship Chicago” is the catalyst for an expansive conversation that brings in diverse perspectives – from admiration to doubt -- about the historical value and future fate of the State of Illinois Center/James R. Thompson Center designed by Chicago architect Helmut Jahn.
Since it was completed in 1985 the state government building has been admired and eye- catching and a source of controversy. Celebrated by some as a breathtaking postmodern icon that innovatively celebrates Illinois citizenship, others revile the structure as a wasteful and garish albatross. Today the decidedly idiosyncratic building shows scars of deferred maintenance. With fiscal austerity on the political agenda it faces an uncertain fate.
A panel discussion follows a screening of the 20-minute short film. The discussion brings together diverse viewpoints – from the arts, architectural practice, design criticism, government, history, preservation advocacy and the development community. The conversation sparked by the film will address the local, state and international value and lasting global interest of Jahn’s artistic statement and a symbol of Illinois citizens, consider the controversies over its use and function, and in light of its potential demolition and loss, explore how “making new history” by repurposing a site brings both opportunities and challenges.
Pam Althoff, Illinois State Senator, 32nd District
Elizabeth Blasius, Architectural historian
Nathan Eddy, "Starship Chicago" director
Jack Guthman, Developer's attorney, Board Chair of the Chicago Architecture Biennial
Jonathan Solomon, Architect and Director of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Architecture, Interiors and Designed Objects Program
Moderator: Lee Bey, Vice President of Planning, Education and Museum Experience at the DuSable Museum of African American History
Presented in partnership with Landmarks Illinois