Saturday, May 25, 2013
The Thompson Center - A monument to 1980s excess
"Atrium" Copyright Andy Marfia 2013 All Rights Reserved. Nikon D7100 w 16-85mm lens, 1/100sec at f8, ISO400.
I've never much cared for the Thompson Center. If I'm feeling charitable I'd say we have a love/hate relationship-- I enjoy photographing it, but I don't enjoy the building as a whole. I consider it a monument to 1980s excess, the architectural equivalent to hair metal, insider trading, and oversized cell phones. It looks like something out of a science fiction movie, but not great science fiction, like Blade Runner. No, this is more the cheesy action flick that you enjoy in spite of itself. This is Total Recall.
Designed by Helmut Jahn, the Thompson Center opened in 1985 as the State of Illinois Center. Its most distinctive features are a curved south wall made entirely of glass, and a colossal central atrium (pictured above) which opens fully to each of its 17 floors. Taken by themselves these would be great features, but unfortunately the architect went with a color scheme-- salmon and sky-blue-- that would look garish even on a newborn baby, and the atrium has far too many reflective surfaces for my tastes. The open design has also been an engineering nightmare, and has proved much more costly to both cool and heat than expected.
I've avoided the color scheme in the top photo by converting it to black and white (except for the flag), but you can see it in the two abstracts below. I was surprised to learn after a recent visit that I didn't have a single photo of this building in my flickr photostream. So, here it is.
"Legoland" Copyright Andy Marfia 2013 All Rights Reserved. Nikon D7100 w 16-85mm lens, 1/160sec at f5.6, ISO800.
"Layers" Copyright Andy Marfia 2013 All Rights Reserved. Nikon D7100 w 16-85mm lens, 1/200sec at f7.1, ISO800.
Update 05/28/13: the third photo is featured on Gapers Block today.