In the course of its storied architectural history, Chicago has come to rue the demolition of buildings like Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan’s Chicago Stock Exchange. They were torn down for the usual reasons. Owners claimed they were outdated. Politicians refused to stand in the way of “progress.” Activists protested, but not enough ordinary citizens raised their voices. The Stock Exchange, whose entrance arch outside the Art Institute of Chicago forms the city’s wailing wall of historic preservation, fell in 1971-72.
Now, a new crisis looms, this one over the fate of the James R. Thompson Center, the spaceship-shaped glitter palace that is, despite formal and functional flaws, one of Chicago’s most significant works of postmodern architecture.