Lucas Museum Starts to Take Shape

The renderings are in for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art that will go up on a parking lot adjacent to Soldier Field. Filmmaker George Lucas announced the project earlier this year and tapped Beijing-based MAD Architects to design the museum.

lucas3The peak of what would be a mountainous Lucas Museum will feature an observation deck with 360° views, providing visitors with stunning panoramas of both the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. Ma Yansong, the founder of MAD Architects, cited the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe as an inspiration. Wright’s Guggenheim Museum appears to be a direct inspiration as the building in the renderings looks like an inverted version of the iconic New York art museum. Like the Guggenheim, the Lucas Museum will also feature circular ramps leading to galleries, ringing a sunlit central cavity.

“Inside, three levels of exhibition space in infinite loops will inspire the imagination to ponder endless possibilities, both in content and design,” reads a statement on the MAD Architects website. “The design furthers the Museum’s mission to be a place of education, culture, and inspiration.”

lucas1At a presentation yesterday, the design team explained how visitors will make use of a new pedestrian bridge to the museum’s main entrance, which will face the lake. The entrance will be surrounded by outdoor plazas, an amphitheater and landscaping, to be designed by Chicago-based Studio Gang.

The mountain-like design may add fuel to the fire of those, like the Friends of the Parks, who oppose any new construction along Chicago’s lakefront, as it flaunts the city’s Lakefront Protection Ordinance which was passed in 1973. The proposal does call for added green space to the area, in lieu of the existing surface parking lot. The design team did not expound on that, however.

The building will be around 400,000 square feet and a little over 100 feet tall, though still shorter than Soldier Field. In addition to the observation deck and gallery spaces, it will feature theaters and a restaurant.

lucas2MAD Architects were chosen because of their innovative approach to design and the firm’s philosophy of connecting urban spaces to natural landscapes. “The Lucas Museum design is both futuristic and timeless. Its continuous undulating organic surface blurs the line between structure and landscape,” read the statement on their website. “The museum is not an isolated object, but a spatial experience that is defined by the people who occupy and interact with it. … More than a building, it is an urban vista for social interaction, bringing people closer to each other and to nature.”

The museum’s collection, seeded mostly by donations from Lucas, will feature pieces from a variety of media and across a century and a half that have shaped our cultural heritage. As the Lucas Museum puts it, the museum “will be a gathering place to experience narrative art and the evolution of moving images – from illustration to cinema to the digital mediums of the future.”

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