Chicagoans Get First Look at Lucas Museum

lucas-museum-1_600xx2833-1895-1662-0The proposed design for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art looks more like the architect was told to plan the Gort Klaatu Art Museum. All it needs is an exit ramp and a giant statue of Michael Rennie.

The initial reaction in Chicago is far from enthusiastic. Says a report in the Chicago Business Journal:

Crain’s Chicago Business columnist Greg Hinz, who normally doesn’t identify as an architecture critic, promptly let it be known he didn’t care for the initial design, which resembles a giant snow-covered undulating mound with a glass spaceship perched above it.

But it appeared the main reason for Hinz’s chiming in was to reveal that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his minions in City Hall also found [architect Ma] Yansong’s first effort at a building design to be lacking….

Hinz aside, even the Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture writer Blair Kamin seemed to be, at best, lukewarm about what he saw in the first renderings….

Kamin merely called the design “unexpected” and “ambitious.” Which, I suppose, might be described as damning with faint praise.

Whether this or any other design can ever be built at the projected Lakefront location has been called into doubt by the Chicago group Friends of the Parks which has said it will do anything necessary to stop the development, including a possible lawsuit.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the story.]

7 thoughts on “Chicagoans Get First Look at Lucas Museum

  1. My first thought was that it looked like it was modeled on Jabba’s barge.

    Friends of the Park has existed for several decades and serves to protect a decree by the 1836 Canal Commission that the area between Michigan Avenue and Lake Michigan, much of which was built on landfill be “Public Ground — Common to Remain Forever Open, Clear, and Free of Any Buildings, or Other Obstruction Whatever.” Several Illinois Supreme Court cases have supported the legislation which established this, although there have been a few building put up in opposition to it, such as the Museum campus and McCormick Place.

  2. Add a few dozen windows and it would look like one of Chris Foss’s 1970s paperback covers.

  3. Looks okay to me … but architectural renderings are notorious for showing a design in misleading light. What looks superb in a huge, open, park-like expanse like this is one thing, but squeeze it between two blocks of neo-classical office buildings with massive architraves and gargoyles, and the entire effect can be hideous.

  4. This San Francisco Bay Area resident is just relieved they’re not building it to look like that around here.

  5. Compounding the silliness of the design is how unexpected the choice is after Lucas had proposed a very traditional-looking museum building for his Presidio bid. Museum proposal for Presidio

    These were the architectural values being advanced in the earlier proposal:

    “Complementing the design of the nearby Palace of Fine Arts and similar to the style of other structures in the Presidio, the museum will be constructed of stone and stucco walls with a glazed north facing façade that will allow natural light into the public spaces and a view of the bay, park, and the Golden Gate Bridge from inside the museum. Roof heights and materials will respect and complement the required view corridors from other areas of the Presidio. The building’s exterior will refer to the architectural vocabulary and details of the nearby historic structures, creating a design which will complement its historic neighbors, but be understood of its time.”

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