|Rendering of Lucas Museum looking South (via Chicago Tribune)|
In real-world Chicago, the burden is on him (Ma Yasong - the architect) to demonstrate that he's enhancing the lakefront, not just luring tourists. And yet, the plan doesn't appear to transform the site's 12 acres of parking lots into new parkland, as city officials said it would. Emanuel even predicted that the project would complete Chicago's Museum Campus, the cluster of natural science museums consisting of the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium.
But the plan, which discards promised underground parking and retains a two-level parking deck on the site's north half, looks to be giving us more "museum" than "campus." It will add "significantly" to lakefront green space, the Lucas camp claims. Yet it offers no hard estimate to back up its assertion.
Plunk down Ma's mountain and you have an imposing row of five structures along South Lake Shore Drive — The Field, Soldier Field, the aforementioned parking deck, the Lucas Museum and the Lakeside Center. Their cumulative effect would be at war with one of the policies set out in the city's lakefront plan: "Maintain and enhance the predominantly landscaped, spacious, and continuous character of the lakeshore parks."
The ultimate issue is the site. Can the lakefront accommodate what Lucas wants and can Lucas, in turn, enhance the city's greatest public space? It may be that no reconciliation is possible, pushing Emanuel to offer the movie mogul another, less contentious, spot, like the former Michael Reese campus on 31st Street. But at this point, confronted by the prospect of a weird blob along the lakefront, it's time for Rahm to tell George: "Take Two."Should be interesting to see how this plays out. Stay tuned.