Group upset over Lucas Museum location, not design

Saturday, September 19, 2015
Group upset of location, not design
Revised plans for the Lucas Museum include more green space, but that?s not the issue for critics.

CHICAGO -- Revised plans for the Lucas Museum include more green space, a smaller building with more windows, and fewer parking spots. However, critics say the issue isn't with the futuristic design- but the use of public land.

"Does it fit in Chicago? I'm not sure," Scott Freberg said.

"I think it might stick out, but I think that it would be a unique, cool touch!" Mary Clare Jordan said.

The 17-acre site creates 4.5 acres of new parkland along the city's lakefront where there is currently an asphalt parking lot by Soldier Field.

The group Friends of the Parks filed a lawsuit in November 2014 because the museum would violate a city ordinance prohibiting further development east of Lake Shore Drive.

"The new design doesn't change Friends of the Parks' position. The problem is not design. It's the placement of this private institution on public trust land," Lauren Moltz, Friends of the Parks, said through a statement Friday.

"We're hoping to take a parking lot, an asphalt parking lot, and convert it into four and a half new acres of parkland, green space, open space accessible for the public for the enjoyment of all of us in Chicago and those who visit and into a world class museum," said Don Bacigalupi, Lucas Museum President.

The building's design -- a smooth, tapering, dune-like form topped with an observation deck resembling a floating disc, compared to critics as 'Jabba the Hutt'-- is essentially final, although there could be minor adjustments. An outdoor plaza in front gently rolls upward into the sloping face of the building.

"It reminds you of the sand dune landscape that had been there on the lakefront a long time ago," said architect Ma Yansong. "So it's very organic architecture."

The museum will showcase popular art Lucas has collected since college, including illustrations by Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and N.C. Wyeth as well as works by Lucas's visual effects company, Industrial Light and Magic.

It also will feature digital media arts and film industry art, including props, costumes, set pieces and story boards. Three auditoriums will host films, lectures and workshops. And there's an educational library.

The vision is to highlight art that tells a story. The collection will have "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" fans mingling with art connoisseurs, Bacigalupi said.

Representatives from the Lucas Museum and Chicago Park District are scheduled to present the plans to City Council next week.

Construction is expected to begin in March and last until 2018.