Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pole Dance on Randolph: State of Illinois deconvenes panels.

Once upon a time this is what Helmut Jahn's Thompson Center looked like this . . .
Now it looks like this, the Dubuffet sculpture elbowed out by what appears to be the world's tallest stripper pole . . .
Along Clark Street, it looked like this . . .
photograph: JohnTheBear, tripadvisor.com
Now it looks like this, bare metal bracings seemingly waiting to be festooned with wet laundry being hung out to dry . . .
All the granite panels - and for those backing the free-standing columns, the structures that supported them - were decided to be of increasingly uncertain mooring, and have been removed to avoid creating pedestrian pancakes should one or more fall free.

In a very prompt response to my emailed questions, David Blanchette, a spokesman for the State of Illinois' Capital Development Board, promises us this is all only temporary:
The intent is to restore the exterior of JRTC to its original appearance. The Capital Development Board, the architect/engineer and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency are investigating replacement materials (foreign granite vs. domestic granite vs. artificial stone) to determine the best match with original, while considering green footprint, budget, historic preservation regulations, etc.

We plan to begin installing replacement panels in June 2010. The underlying structure both for the freestanding columns and the arcade/fascia will most likely be replaced as part of the panel reinstallation project. The amount of time this will take will depend on when funding is available. The time frame will also depend on the source of the replacement stone (prep and shipping time). The project could be complete in 12-18 months, if all needed funds are available in June.

The area at the base of the free-standing columns has been temporarily filled in with grout to provide a level surface (no tripping hazard). This will be removed or covered when the panels are replaced.
The "will depend on when funding is available" is the part that gives pause. For a state that's $11.5 billion in hole, you have to wonder how far down this is on the priority list. Maybe if the process beings to really string out, we could turn to the government of China to help fund an arts project to give the columns a temporary applique mimicking this . . .
. . . .but with patterns incorporating the likenesses of indicted Illinois governors.

4 comments:

BW Des Plaines said...

I'm pleasantly surprised that IHPA is being involved with rehabilitating this 25 year old building.

Anonymous said...

Junk architecture (in design and quality) just doesn't last that long.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when architecture is divorced from the very real art of building. The pictures of the panels on the flimsy framing is pathetic. Architects have lost their practicality.

Ross Guthrie said...

Leave the panels off & do something with the poles. The panels were not attractive or functional.