Praise for New Star Wars, Controversy for Lucas Museum

Artist rendering showing Lucas Museum of Natural art from Northerly Island
Artist rendering courtesy of Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

There is much anticipation surrounding the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as it debuts in theaters across the country. However, amidst the excitement are mixed feelings closer to home. The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art has spurred controversy in Chicago due to the location and the building’s futuristic design. The proposed structure, designed by Chinese architect Ma Yansong, would display Lucas’ personal art collection and movie memorabilia.
The city of Chicago has reportedly offered “Star Wars” creator George Lucas a 99-year lease on 17 acres of lakefront property for only $10. This space is currently a parking lot that Soldier Field visitors use for tailgating. Chicago Bears fans aren’t thrilled about moving the pregame elsewhere, and a revised version of the project proposed a grassy area in the museum’s landscape for fans to use on game days.
Artist rendering showing Lucas Museum of Natural art from Northerly Island
Artist rendering courtesy of Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

Football supporters are not the only group with complaints, however. An advocacy group called Friends of the Parks believes the land should be used for a landscaped park. Friends of the Parks is suing the Chicago Park District and the city of Chicago in an attempt to stop construction, arguing that the museum is not in the public’s best interest and violates a land usage law.
Others claim that the building’s design will be an eyesore on the lakefront. True to his legacy, Lucas’ museum plans show a futuristic, sweeping design. The design has been trimmed down since the original plans, which were criticized heavily, called “Jabba the Hut” and a “weird blob” by Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin. The revised design received slightly more positive reviews. Kamin called it the, “new, slimmed-down design of his once-bloated lakefront museum.” However, he remains skeptical, claiming the museum will cause increased congestion on Lake Shore Drive.
On the other hand, among the museums most prominent supporters are Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson. Emanuel is quoted on the museum’s website, “Like Marshall Field, John G. Shedd, and Max Adler before him, George’s philanthropy will inspire and educate for generations.” The mayor refers to the museum as an “…incredible legacy investment,” while Hobson says, “It’s probably the biggest philanthropic gift to a city since the time of the robber barons.”
Whether you are for or against the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, there’s no doubt that it will be a unique addition to Chicago’s varied architecture. The museum is set to open in 2018.
What are your thoughts on the museum’s design and location? Let us know in the comments!

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