Posts tagged with "Lucas Museum of Narrative Art":

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If Chicago loses the Lucas Museum, its next Biennale may focus on local work

Early conversations surrounding the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial indicate that the second iteration of the exposition will be looking to more regional sources for content. With the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art likely moving out, and Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism marketing organization, running into major economic issues, Chicago is looking to make a big statement to maintain its reputation as a contemporary architecture destination.

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Friends of the Parks lists demands for Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts

There is a new twist in the story of the proposed MAD-designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts in Chicago. As reported by Crain’s Chicago, the public space advocacy group Friends of the Parks has outlined a list of demands of the city in order to move forward with the delayed project. Friends of the Parks (FOTP) launched a lawsuit against the City of Chicago in order to stop the building of the Lucas Museum on public land along Lake Michigan’s shores. The ongoing federal suit has left the project in a state of limbo. With George Lucas anxious to move forward with the project, other cities are being considered for the Museum. The site of the museum had already been moved to Chicago from its original location in San Francisco after similar delays. The Friends of the Parks cite the Illinois Public Trust Doctrine, which outlines the use of the lakefront, in their argument. The group had adamantly opposed any development east of Lake Shore Drive. Recent reports by the Chicago Sun-Times indicated that the stance of the group might be shifting. Now Crain’s has acquired a list of demands that would need to be fulfilled in order to move the project forward. This latest move by FOTP supports rumors that the city and the group are at least interested in negotiating. Far from a simple list of compromises, the FOTP list calls for major legislation for the lakefront. The most significant demand includes a permanent lock on lakefront development for the next 100 years. Others deal directly with the Lucas museum. Most notably, the list stipulates that the museum be built on the current site of the McCormick Place Lakeside Center. The idea was first floated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in an effort to keep the museum in Chicago. Skeptics of the proposal point out that it would cost an additional $1.2 billion dollars of taxpayer’s money. The original proposal was to be paid in full by George Lucas. FOTP also demand the 5% of the museum’s revenues would be reserved in a fund for parks across the city. With patience running out, many think that the fate of the museum is sealed. Both Los Angeles and San Francisco have expressed their interest in hosting the museum.
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Breaking: Friends of the Parks may drop lawsuit over Lucas Museum in Chicago

According to a report by the Chicago Sun Times, public space advocacy group Friends of the Parks (FOTP) has voted to drop the lawsuit against the City of Chicago blocking the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts. The Sun Times quotes a “highly placed source” as saying the board voted to restart negotiations to “move forward with the Lucas Museum.” The Sun-Times also reported this week that Mayor Rahm Emanuel was attempting to persuade FOTP to drop the lawsuit by supporting one of the groups other projects—the “Last Four Miles." This proposal would expand access to lake Michigan by turning more of the Lakefront into public land.
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Chicago battles to keep George Lucas from moving his Museum of Narrative Art elsewhere

The saga of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is nothing less than epic. The proposed museum has had the distinction of raising (or lowering) the dialogue of an architectural project to the level of personal attacks and federal court hearings in two cities. The project’s first proposed location on public land in San Francisco fell through when the city refused to lease the land to the would-be private museum. That was over two years ago. The next proposal was a complete 180-degree turn with a new design and location on the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago. Since that proposal, the road has been anything but smooth, and now the entire project is threatening to move to another city, once again.

The first obstacle the project faced was the court of public opinion. Designed by the Beijing-based MAD Architects, the original iteration of the project was called “needlessly massive” and “jarringly off-key” by Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin, and “defacing the city’s lakefront as much as any teenager with a can of spray paint” by Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago. That is not is to say that the museum has not had its proponents. Most notably, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been outspoken in his support of bringing and keeping the museum in Chicago. (Many would say to a fault.) Other public figures have spoken in favor of the museum, including Civil Rights advocates Father Michael Pfleger and Reverend Jesse Jackson.

As MAD’s design developed, the building shrank in size and a more landscaped park by Chicago-based Studio Gang was added. This went a long way in appeasing those skeptical of the project, but it would not be enough to avoid the wrath of the museum’s most vocal opponent, Friends of the Parks (FOTP). The nonprofit public space advocacy group has taken its grievances to court, and so far has seen some success. In February, a federal judge agreed to hear the case, rejecting the city’s appeal to have it dismissed. FOTP’s argument is based on the Lakefront Protection Ordinance, which restricts and regulates building on lakefront. The ordinance states that its purpose is “To insure that the lakefront parks and the lake itself are devoted only to public purposes and to insure the integrity of and expand the quantity and quality of the lakefront parks.” The city argues that as the project has been approved by the Building Commission, the body that maintains the Lakefront Protection Ordinance, the project should be allowed to move forward.

In a response to FOTP’s lawsuit, advocates for the museum point out that the museum is planned to take the place of a 1,500-car parking lot for the NFL’s Soldier Field. This has led to an oft-repeated ad hominem nickname, Friends of the Parking (Lot). It has also been argued that all of the other museums along the lakefront, just north of the proposed site, are privately owned and run. These include the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium—all of which have notably been started with private investment from individuals.

Now entrenched in a slow-moving legal battle, the 71-year-old George Lucas is getting anxious to begin building. With construction originally slated to begin in early 2016, and completion expected in 2018, a protracted court case is making the original plan unlikely. In what is being described as a last ditch Hail Mary to keep the museum from moving to yet another city, Mayor Emanuel announced an alternative location mid-April. The new plan calls for the demolition of the Gene Summers and Helmut Jahn–designed McCormick Place Lakeside Center. The much-derided modernist convention center is part of the larger McCormick Place Convention Center and has a lease for the lakefront location through 2042. Part of the appeal of the original proposal was that Lucas was going to cover the $750 million cost out of his own pocket. It is estimated that demolishing Lakeside Center and moving the convention space into a new space would cost an additional $1.2 billion. This would involve some fancy finance work, the extension of a handful of taxes currently due to expire, and the involvement of the state legislator. If only for the reason that the Illinois state government is intractably locked in partisan gridlock, unable to make any financial decisions, most are calling this plan a long shot.

Shortly after the new site was proposed, FOTP announced that they would oppose any building on the lakefront, even if it was on the current site of the McCormick Place. In response, Mellody Hobson, a native Chicagoan and wife of George Lucas, released a statement blasting FOTP and announcing the couple was actively searching for new sites outside of Chicago. She closed the statement with, “If the museum is forced to leave, it will be because of the Friends of the Parks and that is no victory for anyone.” 

Subsequently, the City of Chicago requested that the FOTP lawsuit be thrown out by a federal appeals court on emergency grounds. The city is arguing that the normal appeals process would take too long, and the museum would most likely be relocated before the matter could be settled. 

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Prominent Chicago figure has no love for Lucas Museum opposition

Father Michael Pfleger, the outspoken and often controversial South Side Chicago priest, took to Facebook to criticize nonprofit Friends of the Parks for attempting to stop the construction of the MAD-designed lakefront Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

In his post he wrote, “Who Are ‘Friends of the Parks’? Years ago they fought against the Chicago Children’s Museum, now they are fighting against turning a parking lot into the George Lucas Museum, which will bring HUNDREDS of jobs in building and operations...all at his own expense! But, who are they? Who is their board, how diverse is it? Where do they live? How many on their board from the South and West Sides????? WHO ARE THEY????”

[Note: the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art may be moving farther south on the lakefront; read more here.]

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McCormick Place Lakeside Center demolition proposed to keep Lucas Museum in Chicago

In the latest chapter of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts’ saga, a proposal has been put forward to tear down the McCormick Place Lakeside Center to make room for the MAD-designed museum. The Lucas Museum is currently tied up in a legal battle with Friends of the Parks, a public space advocacy group, despite being approved by the city. In a desperate attempt to stop the museum from once again moving its location to another city, the City of Chicago expressed its support of a plan that would replace the Gene Summers and Helmut Jahn-designed McCormick Place Lakeside Center. The 1971 McCormick Place Lakeside Center is located just south of the Soldier Field parking lot, the site that the museum was originally going to replace. The Lakeside Center is noted for having the larges space frame roof in the world, a feat that allows for its mostly uninterrupted interior. The plan to demolish the Lakeside Center is backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as Chicago Tribune Architecture Critic Blare Kamin. In an October article Kamin referred to the building as the “shorline’s Berlin Wall.” Among other concerns, what has not been made clear by the city is where a new convention space would be built to replace the Lakeside center, or who would pay for it. Friends of the Parks has not yet made a statement on whether they would continue to challenge the museum’s placement if it was to move to the Lakeside Center site.
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Oakland wants George Lucas’s Museum

Back in San Francisco in early 2014, the Presidio Trust rejected revised plans for three different cultural space options on an 8-acre site. One idea was a proposal for George Lucas’s Museum of Narrative Art in The Presidio, a 1,500-acre park in northern San Francisco. He then abandoned his San Francisco plans to build a museum to house his cinema, digital, and narrative art collections. He went to Chicago, where his wife grew up. But the proposed Chicago site has faced lengthy disputes. Nonprofits are worried that his 300,000-square-foot museum on land near Burnham Harbor would set a new precedent for private lakefront development on land that is protected for public use. The proposed site is currently a Chicago Bears' football parking lot. The city intends to lease the land for 99 years at a cost of only ten dollars. Beijing–based firm MAD Architects was tapped for the $700 million project that has been mired in legal disputes for over a year. Now, George Lucas may have another option: reconsider the Bay area. According to the San Francisco Business Times, the City of Oakland is trying to get his attention. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf's spokeswoman, Erica Terry Derryck, told the Business Times: “If plans for a museum in Chicago do not come to fruition, we’d be thrilled to explore the possibility of this exciting project coming to life in Oakland.” So far, we wait until mid-April, when federal judge John W. Darrah comes to a decision on whether construction on the Chicago project can start.
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Court trouble continues for the MAD-designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

The saga of the MAD Architects–designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts (LMNA) continues as a federal judge denies the City of Chicago’s motion to allow construction to begin. Judge John W. Darrah has decided to maintain the injunction which is delaying the start of construction of the $400 million museum on Chicago’s lakefront while there is still a case against the project. His decision came a day after city lawyers filed a motion to allow the start of construction and expedite the case brought by Friends of the Parks. Earlier this month Judge Darrah agreed to allow the case to move forward after the city presented a motion to completely dismiss it. This latest decision is being seen as a sign that the case is one step closer to going to trial. The lawyers for the City of Chicago argue that the court’s decision to hear the case “in no way establishes that they are entitled to the extraordinary remedy of a preliminary injunction.” The city also noted in the motion that it believed that the case was not a matter for a federal court to hear in the first place, as it is a city and state-law issue. The City also argues that the preliminary injunction was instituted before the Chicago Park District voted to approve the lease for the land, the Chicago Plan Commission voted to approve the project, and before the City Council approved the amendment to change zoning for the site. Now that the project has been approved by all the necessary city offices, the City wants the injunction lifted, allowing for the project to move forward while the case is settled. The case brought by Friends of the Parks was filed in November 2014. It claims that the negotiations between the Parks District and the Lucas Museum regarding the use of the public land would violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution, was ultra vires (beyond their legal power) under Illinois law, and violated the Illinois Public Trust Doctrine. The lakefront has long been the site of discussion and litigation concerning its use and public access. Most notably stated by Daniel Burnham in regards to his 1909 Plan of the City, “First in importance is the shore of Lake Michigan. It should be treated as park space to the greatest possible extent. The lakefront by right belongs to the people… not a foot of its shores should be appropriated to the exclusion of the people.” Also in the City motion was a warning that Chicago was at risk of losing the museum to another city. Similar issues concerning the use of park land were the initial reason for the museum leaving San Francisco for Chicago. The motion points out, “The preliminary injunction thus threatens the very public interest it is bound to protect: the loss of the LMNA would deprive the City of a world-class museum and all the attendant educational, cultural, and economic benefits, as well as depriving the City of a more beneficial use for the museum site than the current asphalt parking lot.” The “current asphalt parking lot” refers to the surface lot used for the Chicago Bears’s Soldier Field football stadium on the site. Judge Darrah stated that he would have a decision regarding lifting the injunction so that construction could start by mid-April. Beijing-based MAD Architects is working with architect of record VOA Studio from Chicago, and Studio Gang Architects and SCAPE/Landscape Architects for the landscape design.
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Breaking> Federal Court Pumps Brakes on Lucas Museum

Just two weeks after the city of Chicago gave the go ahead for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to procure a 99 year lease on the Chicago Lakefront from the Chicago Park District, a federal court has indicated that it will not give a decision until February regarding a case brought by Friends of the Parks against the City. In a hearing to determine whether the Friends of the Park would be allowed to pursue their lawsuit, Federal Judge John W. Darrah, has given the park watchdog group until December 3th to address the cities motion to dismiss the case. If Judge Darrah allows the lawsuit to go forward, it will only be the beginning of what may become a protracted legal battle over the MAD Designed museum. Until this decision, construction was planned to begin as early as spring of 2016. Friends of the Parks claim the Chicago Park District does not have the  right to lease lakefront land to the Lucas Museum based Illinois’ public trust doctrine. That doctrine states, though vaguely, that land along Lake Michigan must be protected for public use. This has often been interpreted that no private business, or in some cases any construction, should happen along the lakefront.
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MAD reveals slimmed-down Lucas Museum on the Chicago lakeshore

The PR team boosting the George Lucas Museum today unveiled new renderings of the Star Wars filmmaker's high-profile and controversial proposal to turn a swath of land on Chicago's lakefront into a gallery for Lucas' art collection, digital art and movie memorabilia. The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is contested, however, by open space advocates who say it amounts to a giveaway of public land for private use. That debate rages on, although the revised plans (officially a lease agreement between the Chicago Park District and the museum) appear to jeopardize a court case that sought to undo the deal minted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Illinois' state legislature has also passed a law since the suit was filed, stating that the city can legally build facilities on parkland, including "formerly submerged land," apparently sinking the chances of a federal suit filed by Friends of the Parks. In addition to all that legal maneuvering, the furor may have encouraged a more approachable design. The new building will have 25 percent less square footage than originally planned, and nearly 4.6 acres of new parkland where a surface parking lot now lies (that component was always a feature of the proposal, but until now was given little detail). Windows now pepper the terrestrial swell of a building that MAD first offered, hoping for allusions to rolling hills and dunes—but getting "Jabba the Hutt" instead. (Courtesy Lucas Museum of Narrative Art) Still many, including the Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamin, are bristling at an opaque process for developing precious downtown lakefront property owned by the Chicago Park District. Kamin said the new renderings "did not satisfy":
Is this stretch of the lakefront about to become an intergalactic architectural petting zoo, more notable for futuristic structures than the prized public space they occupy? ... After months of controversy, including a federal lawsuit filed by Friends of the Parks, you'd think that the Lucas camp would have addressed such issues. But no. Only after a day of pestering from me did it release a single ground-level rendering. And that one, while alluring enough, simply presents a view from the museum's outdoor plaza looking back at the museum and its flashy, halo-like observation deck and restaurant.
Lead designers MAD Architects, the Beijing-based firm of Ma Yansong, are working with Chicago’s VOA Associates on the museum, as well as Studio Gang and SCAPE Landscape Architecture, who are tackling the lakefront project's landscape component. The critically lauded Chinese firm unveiled its first project in the United States earlier this year8600 Wilshire, an 18-unit residential complex in Los Angeles. (Read AN's feature on Chinese designers remaking American landscapes here.)
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Eavesdrop> Grumpy Gehry flips the bird, defends Chicago’s Lucas Museum

Who’s most irked by the Frank Gehry backlash currently underway in press rooms from Sydney to Spruce Street? Why, Frank Gehry, of course. At a press conference in Oviedo, Spain, Gehry replied to one journalist’s implication that Gehry’s architecture was just about spectacle with a spectacle of his own: He gave the journalist the middle finger. A grumpy Gehry (who later apologized and blamed his behavior on jet lag) went on to explain that “98 percent of everything that is built and designed today is pure shit.” If only every architectural press conference were so interesting! Gehry's also ruffled some feathers in Chicago, penning an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune that chides a public skeptical about George Lucas' proposed Museum of Narrative Art. "Please do not dismiss it because it doesn't look like something you've never seen before," Gehry admonished from the page—one he shares with Blair Kamin, the Tribune's Pulitzer Prize–winning architecture critic, a design commentator with his own harsh words about the museum as presented thus far.
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Unveiled> George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art by MAD architects

Ma Yansong's new museum for George Lucas wouldn't look out of place on a Star Wars set. Renderings made public Monday show a white, undulating dune of sorts, its stone surface ascending into a metallic “floating” disc. Chicago will be the home of the famous director's Museum of Narrative Art, to the chagrin of some Californians who had hoped his collection of paintings and movie memorabilia might land in San Francisco or Los Angeles. The lead designers are MAD architects, the Beijing-based firm of Ma Yansong. Local darlings Studio Gang Architects are working with MAD on the lakefront project, along with Chicago's VOA Associates. A spokesman for Studio Gang said Jeanne Gang's portion of the design would be released in 2015. Museum representatives announced the international design team's identity in July, but renderings only appeared online in early November. An expanded version of the museum's website,, now includes an overview of the building's design:
The architectural concept for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art explores the relationship between nature and the urban environment. Inspired by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe, the design integrates the natural beauty of the park and Lake Michigan with the powerful man-made architecture of Chicago. The design furthers the Museum’s mission to be a place of education, culture, and inspiration.
MAD principal Ma Yansong also offers his thoughts on the project in a video posted to Vimeo and embedded on the website: “I think the green space, the public park, is a great asset for Chicago and I want our building [to] blend into this environment,” he said in the video. The setting just south of Chicago's downtown Loop district will provide a unique context, Ma said. “You will see the building as a landscape in front of all these modern skyscrapers.” He described the building's form as “very horizontal, undulating, soft surface merging with [the] existing landscape,” and referenced a public atrium that he called an “urban living room.” That room, and much of the building, will reach out to the sky and surrounding landscape, said Ma. “We want to bring this idea of connecting sky and the land to the project. Because all the space around the museum is about where you touch the land. So the land is very important to us.” The “floating” disc atop the building will feature an observation deck, offering 360-degree views of the surrounding area, including Lake Michigan. Studio Gang “will design the landscape and create a bridge to connect The Lucas Museum to Northerly Island,” according to the project's website. Northerly Island is currently the subject of a massive makeover by Gang that aims to turn the southern portion of the 91-acre peninsula into an ecological park. The website says a live webcam will broadcast the project's construction. The museum's fanciful design is unlikely to cool tensions with the group Friends of the Parks, who have challenged the museum development under Chicago's 1973 Lakefront Protection Ordinance. A formal presentation to the city's plan commission and council is expected next year, but opposition to this private development of lakefront land is likely to continue—especially now that it has a face.