Maybe, if it ever gets built, I will grow to love it in time. Still I don’t think so. The problem with the Lucas Museum is it sits too close to the democratic lakefront. I believe it is outside of the boundaries of “forever free and clear,” but too close for such an imposing building. It pains me to say that. I love the idea Chicago would garner another attraction especially one given over to “narrative art,” with landscaping by Jeanne Gang, but the narrative is lost in this design and Ms. Gang’s greenery is overshadowed in what only looks like a monument to hubris.
I remember Star Wars. It was beautiful and monumental, not because of the grandiose empire, but the actions of small people off to save the galaxy from tyranny. If I could compare their actions to anything, I must say it is like the “city beautiful,” that 19th century movement which defied the overbearing industrialization of the age to give to common people breathing room and the knowledge that though they dwelt in the city, it was “a city in the garden.”
We are Chicago. We make no small plans. We have plenty of that which is imposing in scale and dazzles the imagination, but we are also “urbs in horto.” We believe that design is to serve free people and that free and democratic people only deserve the best of design. Lucas did not give us that and though he may be using his money; he is building on our property.
We are Chicago. Our narrative is great and we are rooted in the idea our lakefront is indeed the domain of the people. If Mr. Lucas wants to build a structure on the people of Chicago’s common property, one that will stand for more than a century, he should build one that deserves Jeanne Gang’s landscaping and the people of Chicago’s admiration. That will not be the structure we see in the current rendering, but one that deserves to house the vision Mr. Lucas’ had in his film-making and the narration of a free people. Mostly it will be one that deserves to be on space that is the final frontier of the city in a garden.
Image: artist rendering of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art