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What if George Lucas Built His Museum Inside the Lakeside Center?

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Despite its age and hulking size, the Lakeside Center is an important piece of Chicago architecture

While Mayor Emanuel claims that support for the Lucas Museum backup plan at McCormick Place is gaining momentum, others are calling the proposal an expensive long shot and a move out of Daley's playbook. There have been some other suggestions for how the issue could be resolved, allowing the museum to finally have its place in the city's urban fabric. Local architect Thomas Hickey has suggested building the museum on the other side of Lake Shore Drive while Helmut Jahn drew sketches of a gutted Lakeside Center with a curving pavilion and new green space. Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin has previously called for the demolition of the Miesian convention center, and the mayor's latest plan to relocate the museum to McCormick Place would do exactly that.

However, former WBEZ architecture blogger and photographer Lee Bey has suggested that Lucas consider building his museum in the existing Lakeside Center. In a piece for the Chicago Reader, Bey says that the Lakeside Center is deserving of landmark status and protection and that a Lucas Museum at the site would not only help rejuvenate the aging building, but it would save an important piece of Chicago architecture. "Lakeside Center seems too good to just throw away," Bey states in his post.

The hulking behemoth comes from Gene Summers and Helmut Jahn, two architects that studied under the master of minimalism, Mies van der Rohe. And while it's one of Chicago's best examples of modernist architecture, it probably should have never been built where it's at. However, as Bey states, many believe that it is just too important to throw away. Earlier this year, Preservation Chicago added the building to its annual "Chicago Seven" list of endangered architecture. In their notes, Preservation Chicago calls the building "one of Chicago’s great midcentury modern buildings," and suggests that the city consider adaptive reuse.

Despite the contentious nature of the original lakefront site that the city had selected for the museum, Bey still believes that the Solider Field parking lot was the right choice for the project. But if the new plan to move the museum to McCormick Place does move forward, Bey thinks it's worth thinking about saving this important piece of Chicago architecture.