Revenge of the Parking Lot

George Lucas cancels plans to build museum in Chicago

Architecture Midwest Other
(Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)
(Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)

The long battle is over. George Lucas has decided to take his proposed Museum of Narrative Arts out of Chicago. The announcement came after the project was held hostage by a lawsuit leveled by public space advocacy group, Friends of the Parks. Lucas will once again look to California to build his $700 million museum.

“Despite widespread support of the project from Chicago’s cultural, business, labor, faith and community leaders and the public,’ remarked Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement released on Friday, “a legal challenge filed by Friends of the Parks threatened to derail this once-in-a-generation opportunity. We tried to find common ground to resolve the lawsuit – the sole barrier preventing the start of the museum’s construction.”

George Lucas was not willing to wait for the lawsuit to be decided in a federal court to build his museum. (Joi Ito/wikimedia)

George Lucas was not willing to wait for the lawsuit to be decided in a federal court to build his museum. (Joi Ito/wikimedia)

The announcement does not come as a big surprise to most in Chicago. In the last week Friends of the Parks released a list of demands that included taking 5% of the museums revenues for a parks fund, and a moratorium on any building on the lakefront for the next 100 years. Some have called the list a form of extortion, and few believed the city would cave to the demands.

The 300,000-square-foot museum was designed by MAD Architects. The MAD design is the second design for the museum, which was originally planned to be built in San Francisco. The Friends of the Park took greatest issue with the location of the museum on the lakefront, which they believed violated the public trust doctrine.

The use of the lakefront in Chicago is often a point of contention. Very few projects have been built on the lakefront since it was formed when the burnt remains of the city were pushed into the lake after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. Despite this, other museums including the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and the Adler Planetarium, where privately built along the lakefront over the last 100 years.

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