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A Thompson Center Plaza Reinvigoration

Chicago, Illinois

The goal of this studio was to reinvigorate the Thompson Center Plaza of Chicago with a new urban and architectural design for the new Google Chicago Headquarters. By routinely meeting with Google team members who were facilitating the project and the current architects and developers, we were able to understand the vision of the “client” and experience a real-life design issue. After Google’s purchase of the Thompson Center, a giant modern steel and glass building taking up nearly a full block in downtown Chicago, the company was seeking a design solution to the awkward, dead pedestrian plaza in what was leftover on the block. With Google’s new design strategy focusing on adaptive reuse, rather than tearing down the post-modern behemoth, we were tasked with revitalizing the small piece of leftover space. The new Google Plaza.


This intervention is an integration of not only Google's building methods and approaches to adaptive reuse, but one that would benefit both the client and the pedestrians of downtown Chicago. The Google Lawn and Exhibition Cafe is semipermeable, integrating the outdoors and indoors and inviting not only Google employees to work in and enjoy the spaces but also passersby of Downtown Chicago. Rather than leaving this awkward triangle of pavement to unused urban space, the inside of the structure invites people in to explore the technology that Google has to offer and act as a gateway into Google’s professional realm, while the outdoor court and giant stairs offer places to sit, work, eat, take a meeting, or simply sit and take a walking break.

The Site

The site, the Thompson's Center new design, and the solution.

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Existing Conditions
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Ground Floor Plan
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Roof Plan
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The Views

Views from how the people would experience it.

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