100 West Randolph

100 West Randolph

This building will be sold and most likely it will be demolished. That’s a word on a street.

100 West Randolph. James R. Thompson Center or State of Illinois Center.

It all comes down to proper insulation and architect’s pride.

Helmut Jahn designed this beautiful post-modern building in 1985, early in his career. It is one city block curved glass structure around an immense skylit atrium inside the building. In some way it is a huge greenhouse. And greenhouses tend to be hot in summer and cold in winter.

Originally, the design called for curved, insulated (double paned) glass panels. But that would have doubled the cost of construction. As an alternative, flat insulated glass had been suggested. But Helmut Jahn rejected this idea. Eventually, as a compromise, single-panned (non-insulated), curved glass panels were used.

It proved to be a very expensive compromise. It costs 17 million dollars a year to cool the building in hot summers and warm it in cold Chicago winters. The building owner, State of Illinois, is no longer able to afford it and plans to sell it.

Decisions and consequences.