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Chicago Sun-Times Opinion This Week
Good morning,
We lead today’s newsletter with a column from former Sun-Times architecture critic, now editorial board member, Lee Bey. What’s his expert analysis and commentary on? Saving the Thompson Center.
Wrecking the Thompson Center robs Chicago of a one-of-a-kind building, taking with it that soaring, spectacular, glass-topped atrium, Bey writes.
Another must-read piece this week is about a topic that comes up often in Chicago — Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her promise of greater transparency. News about the Chicago Police Department launching a secret drone program has unsettled a lot of Chicagoans, but it didn’t have to. Lightfoot is missing chances to defuse public relations flaps simply by being more forthcoming, the Editorial Board writes.
In Letters to the Editor, reader Michael Riley has a pitch for a possible solution regarding the proposal to rename Lake Shore Drive in honor of Chicago’s first permanent non-Indigenous settler, Jean Baptiste Point DuSable. Riley suggests: How about DuSable Lake Shore Drive?
— Ismael Pérez, editorial board member

For all the building’s faults, the James R. Thompson Center atrium is one of Chicago’s greatest public spaces — and reason alone for preserving the building. Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
For all the building’s faults, the James R. Thompson Center atrium is one of Chicago’s greatest public spaces — and reason alone for preserving the building. Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Helmut Jahn and I once talked — I can’t believe this conversation was 21 years ago already — about Sony Center, his then-brand new project opening on Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz.
As we went over the details of the $800 million project, Jahn focused on a cobblestone-like curved walkway that led from the street into the complex. The path is privately owned, but Jahn purposely gave it the feel of a public way. He wanted the public to venture into Sony Center and feel like they belonged.
That was quite a design gesture in 2000, given that just a little more than a decade before, Potsdamer Platz was a barricaded Cold War no-man’s land dividing East from West. But Sony officials, contrary to Jahn’s vision of openness, wanted doors at the walkway’s entrance.
“They said, ‘We need some doors here,’” Jahn told me. “I said, ‘What?’ They said, ‘It’s going to be a security problem at night.’’’
Jahn, one of architecture’s brightest lights over the past 50 years — who was killed on Saturday in a bicycle accident in Kane County — cared about the design of civic spaces in his work. He said no to the Sony Center doors.
And within a few days of our talk, I saw Sony Center in person as this paper’s architecture critic. I strolled the walkway. Jahn was absolutely right.
Which brings us to what irks me most about the State of Illinois’ decision last week to slap a for-sale sign on the Sony Center’s design cousin, the Jahn-designed Thompson Center in Chicago’s Loop, in hopes that a developer will buy the building, demolish it and put up something new.
Wrecking the Thompson Center robs Chicago of a one-of-a-kind building, taking with it that soaring, spectacular, glass-topped atrium. A showstopper of glass, color and motion, the atrium is one of our city’s most special public spaces; so much so that it pushes back against more than 40 years of poor stewardship by the state — the cheaping out on construction details and maintenance.
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board is the opinion voice of the hardest-working newspaper in America. It is headed by editorial page editor Tom McNamee and includes Thomas FrisbieLorraine ForteLee BeyIsmael Pérez and Mary Mitchell as members.
Your must-read editorial
The Editorial Board on Lightfoot and transparency:
If City Hall had simply announced at any time since then that the Chicago police were launching a pilot drone program, with strict adherence to the state law, we doubt that many folks would have blinked.
Greater transparency would make Mayor Lightfoot’s tough job a little easier
More editorials we published this week
The Big Lie becomes official policy of the Republican Party
How updating an old Herbert Hoover law would offer new hope to undocumented immigrants
In your words
“DuSable Lake Shore Drive sounds good enough to me.”
— Michael Riley, Uptown
How about DuSable Lake Shore Drive?
Every day we publish submissions from Chicago Sun-Times readers weighing in on issues facing the city and its residents. Send letters to letters@suntimes.com or reply to this email to share your perspective.
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Chicago Sun-Times Opinion This Week

A weekly overview of opinions, analysis and commentary on issues affecting Chicago, Illinois and our nation by outside contributors, Sun-Times readers and the CST Editorial Board.

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