Mayor Rahm Emanuel has hatched a new plan to save the beleaguered Lucas Museum: demolish the Lakeside Center at McCormick Place and build Lucas' museum there. The announcement comes after a judge has upheld the lengthy legal battle over the mayor's plan to build the museum on what is now a parking lot just south of Solider Field. A federal judge presiding over the lawsuit has sided with the Friends of the Parks organization, which is seeking to block the proposal because of its use of public lakefront. According to the Sun-Times, City Hall insiders believe that moving the museum to McCormick Place is the city's only hope for seeing the museum built in Chicago.
But is the plan a practical one? The Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamin has been calling for the demolition of the Lakeside Center since last autumn, calling it "the shoreline's Berlin Wall." However, considering that the Friends of the Parks organization is currently suing to stop the Lucas Museum from being built along the lakefront, why would they support this plan?
According to the Sun-Times' Fran Spielman, the mayor's new plan calls for the demolition of the modernist Lakeside Center, which would then be replaced by a new museum building with a large green roof and 12 acres of park space. The mayor's plan does indicate whether the Chicago Park District would be reimbursed for lost revenue during and after demolition. However, to make up for the lost convention space, the mayor is suggesting yet another McCormick Place expansion.
Fearing a possible demolition plan for the Lakeside Center, Preservation Chicago included the Miesian Lakeside Center on this year's "Chicago Seven" list of most endangered buildings in the Windy City. The Lakeside Center is not the first building to stand at the site. The original McCormick Place convention center, a large steel and concrete structure, opened in 1960 and was lost to a large fire in 1967. The dark, low-hanging modernist structure that stands at the site today was designed by Gene Summers and Helmut Jahn, students of Mies van der Rohe. Opened in 1971, the Lakeside Center is the oldest section of the McCormick Place.
Considering that Lucas Museum reps have considered moving their museum to another city, the latest plan may be a final Hail Mary play to keep it in Chicago.
- Rahm plan: Demolish McCormick Place East, put Lucas Museum there [Sun-Times]
- Previous Lucas Museum coverage [Curbed Chicago]