Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Kamin Column: Build Lucas Museum on Train Tracks West of LSD

The embattled Lucas Museum that is slated to be built on a parking lot just south of Soldier Field continues to be in the news.  This time, one of our favorite writers/columnists at the Chicago Tribune, Blair Kamin, weighs in on the current situation.  This is from last week, but we highly suggest reading if you haven't.

While Kamin provides some background on the current situation and calls-out the mayor for his blindness and lack of flexibility, the thing that was of most interest to us was the alternative solution that Kamin highlights from a different architect (via Chicago Tribune):
The obvious course is to find another spot that will put the Lucas Museum near the Museum Campus and let its patron erect the iconic building he so fervently desires. Veteran Chicago architect Thomas Hickey, who's been following the case, has such a site in mind. It partly consists of a surface parking lot directly across Lake Shore Drive from the Lucas site. 
Following Millennium Park's precedent, Hickey suggests building a deck that would bridge over the lot and railroad tracks to its west. The museum would go on the deck, with essentially the same twin-peaked profile as the current plan but more elongated to fit the narrower site. The structure would sit west of Lake Shore Drive's center line, meaning that it would be off the lakefront and not vulnerable to legal challenges. 
Like the fingers of a starfish, ramps would extend out from the deck, joining it to the surrounding area. One would reach across Lake Shore Drive, linking the Lucas building to the Museum Campus to the east. Another would engage the emerging McCormick Place entertainment district, including the under-construction arena for DePaul University basketball, to the west. 
That's a brilliant stroke — the museum would literally form a bridge between those two downtown leisure centers, bringing greater foot traffic and attendance to both. There's already a Metra station right at 18th Street. Parking for about 1,000 cars would go under the deck. The current Lucas site would retain some parking, but it would be surrounded with greenery, like the lakefront lots at 31st Street Beach.

We like this for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it takes an isolating eyesore (the train tracks) and uses the building and development to connect various elements of the neighborhood.

While it seems like a novel idea, it would be costly and probably unlikely.  There is also a big $3 billion development proposal that was floated last October called "Gateway" that might infringe on this idea.

So moral of the story, don't hold your breath, but man this would be a good solution.

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