He has a novel idea:
It's time to start a civic conversation about getting rid of the shoreline's Berlin Wall — the Lakeside Center of the McCormick Place convention center, a powerful work of steel-and-glass modernism that is one of Chicago's worst urban design mistakes.
Set on a massive brick podium and rising just south of the Lucas museum site, this black 1971 behemoth is a brutally divisive presence, though it has no watch towers and barbed wire like the Berlin Wall that was the focus of President Ronald Reagan's 1987 "tear down this wall" challenge to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
The giant Lakeside Center blocks views of — and, to a large extent, access to — the shoreline from the west. On the lakefront itself, it visually divides north from south, a holdover from the bad old days of a separate and unequal shoreline that favored affluent whites on the north at the expense of poor blacks on the south.
Parking lots and expressway ramps were built to serve it, further blighting the lakefront and Lake Shore Drive. It has never been easy to reach by public transportation. And it has long been an effective killer of migratory birds.
Life and politics are about trade-offs. The mayor is hellbent on building the Lucas museum despite Friends of the Parks' federal lawsuit and warnings from this quarter that the museum will further clutter an already overbuilt stretch of Chicago's lakefront. So be it. He can make amends — and make history — by undoing the blunder of the Lakeside Center, which is the byproduct of an era that wrongly prioritized commerce and transportation over the traditional lakefront touchstones of nature, recreation and culture.
There has been so much talk about adding the Lucas Museum to the lakeshore, but what about if we add this and get rid of a worse building. Seems like a good tradeoff to me.
Probably unlikely, but a fun thought nonetheless.