Here’s what the Lucas Museum should be

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How George Lucas’ bid for a Presidio museum misfired

Details have been dribbling out over the past two weeks: A revised Lucas Museum of Narrative Art design isn’t just coming soon—certain members of Chicago’s business elite have already seen it, as Shia Kapos first reported here in Crain’s. And the Chicago Tribune has sussed out a reduction in square footage (from 400,000 square feet to 300,000) from recent court proceedings in the case against the proposed museum brought by Friends of the Parks.

While we’ll know soon enough what the revised design from Beijing-based MAD Architects looks like, let’s pause to consider what it can—and should—be like.

Landscape
The parking lot and parking decks that occupy the lakefront site between Soldier Field and McCormick Place are a wholly incongruous use of the lakefront—though parking is sorely needed here. The mayor recently adopted a mantra of “open, accessible and green” for new projects—and the revised Lucas Museum design will be a good indicator of how that’s going. The initial “design concept,” which I suggested was “weird,” was likened (most positively) to Disney World’s Space Mountain and (less charitably) to a 10-story-tall Jabba the Hutt. This project is a unique opportunity to rethink the boundaries between “building” and “landscape.” Millennium Park gave us a new model for a 21st-century park that has been widely embraced (particularly how it seamlessly covers multiple levels of parking, trains and other urban infrastructure). We need to insist that the Lucas Museum does the same for this important stretch of Chicago’s lakefront. []

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