photograph: Mary Ann Sullivan (click images for larger view)Helmut Jahn's post-modernist State of Illinois Building, now the James R. Thompson Center, took up most of a full city block, with pedestrian arcades along three sides. Shielding the arcades from the street was an applique of granite panels mounted on perimeter columns, which continued past where the building ended, in a series of free-standing shafts supporting the same granite panels that diminished in height as they moved to the corner of Clark and Randolph, where a column was missing, providing both an abstracted sense of enclosure and inferred entrance to the large plaza fronting the building.
we reported, in September of 2009, metallic grids of steel strapping began to bind the pole-mounted granite panels into place. It was the prelude to stripping away every last granite panel, which officials feared were coming loose from their moorings, threatening to smash passersby into personal injury lawyer dust.
talk was about working with the Illinois History Preservation Agency, "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.", with the plan being to begin installing replacement panels this past June.
Now, just in time for Christmas, we have our solution. The metal supports, as promised, have been removed, and in their place, we have a support structure covered in what looks like a kind of wallboard . . . .
It works best, I think, at the LaSalle Street entrance. With the previous accretion of stone gone (there was a small transparent breach at the keystone, which you can see here) and the horizontal top beam exposed, it becomes a much clearer cutout of the curtain wall above, The flagpoles coming through the now open stubs, however, look a bit like toothpicks jammed into cubes of port wine cheese.