Lucas Lives! Maybe. But It’ll Cost the City a Pretty Penny

Rendering of the Lucas Museum for Narrative Art replacing the McCormick Place Lakeside Center

Rendering of the Lucas Museum for Narrative Art replacing the McCormick Place Lakeside Center

Well, that was quick.

Just hours after publishing an article about how Mayor Rahm Emanuel may have come up with a trade that would have the Friends of the Parks advocacy group drop its lawsuit blocking the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, the city’s largest newspaper (suck it, Trib) broke news again with word that FotP may finally back off.

Friends of the Parks has tied up the $700 million Lucas Museum in court for months, because it doesn’t want the building erected on the city’s lakefront.  But this morning the Sun-Times reports that may have changed.

Michael Sneed writes that, “the executive board voted to restart negotiations with the city to ‘move forward with the Lucas Museum.'”

But the news is not all rainbows and unicorns.

According to Sneed, what the FotP is after now is Rahm’s previous offer — to use the Lucas Museum to replace the McCormick Place Lakeside Center.  That’s a heck of a lot more complicated, and more expensive, than replacing a surface parking lot.  While it is theorized that some of the building’s foundations could be re-used, we’re still talking about millions of dollars for demolition that the city simply doesn’t have.

The 300,000 square-foot Lakeside Center opened in 1971 as a replacement for the original 1960 convention hall which burned down just seven years after it opened. The new building was designed by Gene Summers of C.F. Murphy and Associates. Its design and location has been the subject of some controversy over the years. While Mr. Summers has a pedigree which includes working in Mies van der Rohe’s office, the building has been criticized for being too big, too dark, and isolating the South Loop neighborhood from Lake Michigan.

Replacing the Lakeside Center with the Lucas Museum would open up a bottleneck in the lakefront and create 12 acres of new parkland.

McCormick Place - Chicago, Illinois - July, 2009 - 004a

The McCormick Place Lakeside Center

Location: 2301 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

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