Eviscerating the Tauntaun: Inside the Proposed Lucas Museum

Revised rendering of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (Courtesy of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)

Revised rendering of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (Courtesy of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)

A lot of pixels have been lit (the modern equivalent of spilling ink) since it was first announced that legendary Hollywood filmmaker George Lucas wants to build a new museum in Chicago.  Keyboards started clacking even more furiously when a slice of public lakefront land was offered to the science fiction pace setter for a token amount.

Whether the lakefront lease for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is a good idea or a bad idea is currently up to the courts.  What we’re concerned about here are the details of the building.  To date, there hasn’t been much information about it except for two sets of nearly identical renderings released by the museum foundation in San Francisco.

Revised rendering of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (Courtesy of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)

Revised rendering of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (Courtesy of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)

What we’ve seen has been compared to everything from Bedouin tents in the desert to a miniature mountain range.  Some people see it as sails to pay homage to the museum’s potential location on Burnham Harbor.  But we’ve seen the diagrams of the project, and can tell you without a doubt that the building is supposed to represent sand dunes.

We know this to be true because of the museum’s position on the shore of Lake Michigan, and because of the ephemeral nature of both sand dunes and the art of storytelling that will be celebrated inside.  Also because the words “DUNE LANDSCAPE” are printed on the diagrams filed with the city clerk’s office four days ago.

Lucas Museum floor plans animation

If you were to run the Lucas Museum through a CAT scan machine, it would look something like this.

We’d love to bring you another firehose of information about this project the way we do with Chicago’s skyscrapers, but there’s really not that much information out there.  Perhaps it’s because of the nature of museums.  So what we have found out most recently is presented below.  This time, take a gentle drink from the garden hose:

  • Address: 1410 Chicago Museum Campus Drive
  • Address: 458 East 18th Street
  • Address: 600 East Waldron Drive
  • Developer: Chicago Park District
  • Architecture firm: MAD Architects
  • Architect of record: VOA Associates
  • 1559 South lake Shore drive
  • Stories: 8
  • Observation deck height: 136 feet, six inches
  • Gross land area: 307,861 square feet
  • Parking garage entrance: via East 18th Drive
  • Loading dock entrance: via East 18th Drive
  • Parking: 254 spaces
  • Trees to be cut down: 554
  • Trees to be planted: 938
  • Plaza size:59,000 square feet
  • New green space: 200,000 square feet
  • The road connecting East 18th Drive to McCormick Place will be removed and relocated to the west so the museum isn’t cut off from the water.
  • Because of the sloping nature of the terrain, there may be a pedestrian bridge built between the museum and the Museum Campus’ Waldron parking garage.  This has not been decided yet.

Stacking diagram

  • Level 8: Observation deck
  • Level 7: Restaurant
  • Level 6: Gallery
  • Level 5: Gallery, dome
  • Level 4: Gallery, dome, offices
  • Level 3: Gallery, dome, classrooms, garden
  • Level 2: Cafe, lobby, theater, library, offices, archive, pedestrian bridge
  • Level 1: Parking, loading, lobby
Location: 1559 South Lake Shore Drive, South Loop



Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at chicagoarchitectureinfo@gmail.com.

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  1. There’s a very nice bird sanctuary there now. How sad to see it destroyed just to stoke this guy’s ego. Please end the destruction of what little bit of nature exists in Chicago.

    Post a Reply
    • Editor

      There is no bird sanctuary at the location for the proposed new museum. It is a surface parking lot.

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