07/24/2014 04:43 pm ET Updated Jul 24, 2014

Ex-Governor Says His Dumpy Namesake Building Gives People Dumpy Impression Of Government


It's been a proposed casino site and a state budget bargaining chip, but to the namesake of Illinois' foremost state office building, the James R. Thompson Center is a dump.

Leaky ceilings, shabby landscaping and decades-old carpet held together by duct tape were just some of the reasons ex-Illinois Governor James R. Thompson cited when he lamented the state of the massive downtown Chicago building in an interview with Crain's Chicago Business.

"It looks like a scrap heap," the 78-year-old Republican told Crain's. "It's terrible, just terrible."

Thompson said much of the building is exactly the same as it was nearly three decades prior, including cheap carpeting that was never meant to last 30 years. He suggested to Crain's that the sad state of the government building reflects poorly on the government itself.

"What kind of message does it send?" Thompson asked. "What impression do you want people to have of state government?"

An unnamed source echoed the ex-governor's sentiments: "Can you imagine what a CEO thinks if he comes to talk to the governor about expanding in Illinois and walks through this?"

Constructed in 1985 and re-named in Thompson's honor in 1993, the Thompson Center has had its share of troubles over the years. Controversial for its salmon color and modern glass design, the building was also dogged for its inefficiency: glass panels allowed internal temperatures to rise as high as 110 degrees in the summer, ultimately requiring a costlier air conditioning system. Most recently, bedbugs were spotted in areas of the building.

A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services said renovations are expected this fall, including new carpet, according to the Associated Press.



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