Between November 6 and November 12, 2017, MAS Context exclusively hosted the international digital premiere of Starship Chicago, a documentary by Nathan Eddy, which had its U.S. premiere during our MAS Context : Analog event in October.
The film focuses on Helmut Jahn’s James R. Thompson Center, originally the State of Illinois Center, an iconic, provocative, and controversial landmark architectural statement that continues to provoke, enrage, and inspire despite the state of Illinois’ shameful neglect.
While the film chronicles the story of Chicago’s most provocative contribution to modern architecture it more importantly calls into question the very essence of the future of the democratic city—Who determines the future of the past?
About Starship Chicago
Architect Helmut Jahn’s kaleidoscopic, controversial State of Illinois Center, which shocked the world when it opened in 1985, may not be long for this world.
Today the building is a run down rusty shadow of its former self, occupying a lucrative downtown block and deemed expendable by the cash-strapped state legislature.
Despite initial construction flaws and hefty refurbishment costs, this singular architectural vision of an open, accessible, and inspiring civic building—defined by its iconic, soaring atrium—remains intact.
Four years after the stinging loss of brutalist icon Prentice Women’s Hospital, Chicago preservationists, along with the building’s original champion, Governor James R. Thompson, are gearing up for a major battle to save the city’s most provocative architectural statement.
Director & Producer: Nathan Eddy
Director of Photography: Brian Cagle
Editor & Design: Nate DeYoung
Aerial Photography: Michael Hoday
Additional Photography: Joe Gleason
Sound Mixer: Eric Brown
Music: Zain Effendi
World Premiere: Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam (October 7)
US Premiere: MAS Context : Analog in Chicago (October 21)
New Urbanism Film Festival in Los Angeles (October 22)
Architecture and Design Film Festival in New York City (November 2-4)
Starship Chicago is the second short film directed by Nathan Eddy. In 2013, he released The Absent Column that chronicled the preservation battle around Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, a building that was ultimately demolished. The film made its world premiere at the Durban Film Festival in South Africa and was later included in the Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam and the Architecture & Design Film Festival in New York. In our Legacy issue, an essay by Paola Aguirre and Michelle Ha Tucker with photographs by David Schalliol, discussed the demolition of Prentice Women’s Hospital.
More recently, Nathan Eddy, organized a protest and a change.org petition against the redesign proposed by Snøhetta of Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s AT&T Building. Using the hashtag #SaveATT, Nathan Eddy, who is working on a film about Philip Johnson, and other organizations and notable architects such as Docomomo US and Robert Stern, are asking the building’s owners to reconsider the design alterations to this iconic postmodern tower in New York City. Media outlets such as Metropolis magazine, Architect’s Newspaper, and Archinect among others have covered these efforts.
We look forward to your comments on these preservations efforts. Please, share these initiatives and others in order to have thoughtful, critical, and proactive conversations about preservation and our built environment.