MAD Architects unveils slimmed-down design for Lucas Museum in Chicago


The team led by MAD Architects has presented revised designs for the proposed George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art along Chicago's lakefront (+ slideshow).

Mad Architects Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

The controversial project's square footage has been reduced by 25 percent to 300,000-square-feet (27,870 square metres) and its footprint has been cut by 40 percent.

Mad Architects Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

The project has faced lawsuits and criticism from parks advocates for its impact on the lakefront, but was defended by Frank Gehry last year.

The new design also includes additional windows for views out to the city, Lake Michigan, and surrounding parks. The museum's exterior cladding has yet to be specified, but the architects indicated it will likely be sheathed in stone or concrete.

Mad Architects Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

The team also includes local firm Studio Gang as urban designer and New York-based SCAPE as landscape architect. It would be built on what are currently surface parking lots, and plans include a large underground garage to replace those spaces.

Mad Architects Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

The revised design adds an additional 4.5-acres (1.82-hectares) of open space, which Studio Gang and SCAPE's Kate Orff are developing into a series of dunes with a filigree of paths and trails running through it. "It's almost like an outside museum. It will be unlike anything in North America now," said Kate Orff, according to Crain's. "We're trying to blur the line between the building and the ground."

Mad Architects Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Inside, the building will include galleries, screening rooms, and a restaurant with 360-degree views located at the top of the tent-like structure.

The museum will house the private art and memorabilia collection of the film director George Lucas, who is behind the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies. The term "narrative art" refers to figurative imagery and storytelling, and the collection includes Norman Rockwell paintings, digital art, and costumes and objects from films. Lucas sold his company LucasFilms to the Disney company in 2012.

Mad Architects Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Lucas previously considered building his museum in LA and San Francisco, but run into complications in both cities. His wife, Mellody Hobson, a business executive, is a Chicago native.

Mad Architects Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

The revised design will formally be submitted for approval to the city nearly next week.

Mad Architects Lucas Museum of Narrative Art
Sectional rendering showing the building's internal spaces

Based in China, MAD Architects is growing its presence in the US after opening an office in Los Angeles. Proposed projects in and around the city include a village-like housing scheme in Beverly Hills and a cluster of linked towers in downtown LA.

  • Mike T

    The design is really futuristic. Somebody might think this is new architecture style to Chicago, lets don’t forget how radical Chicago architecture was in the modern time when Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright were there. Finally something can put Chicago back on the world architecture map in the 21st Century. Go Chicago!

  • Worldail

    US becomes so conservative these days, you don’t see many cutting-edge designs like this anymore. Europe is better and you see more latest architecture there.

  • Delbert Grady

    Likin the smooth surface of the exterior but maybe I’m just eager to skate it (short board.) Millemnium Falcon plan is super tacky. Major missed opportunity if you re trying to “blend with the ground plane”.

  • GeorgieGirl

    Chicago doesn’t have a problem with the design but the location. Lucas wants it on the lakefront which was deemed forever open and clear for the people of Chicago.

    It’s public land that he wants a privately owned museum to occupy. It would also block the view of thousands of residents who bought west of there for the very view. The open lakefront is the best thing about Chicago but the billionaire and his ego wants the premier location. The west coast turned him down for the same reason and now he wants to ram it down Chicago’s throat. Friends of the Park is suing to keep him out. I hope they prevail.

    • davvid

      The site is currently a parking lot.

      • GeorgieGirl

        It’s a parking lot used by tailgaters on Bear game days.
        “One rich man does not have the right to build a monument to himself on land that should be enjoyed by many people for many, many years. The natural beauty of our lakefront must not be superseded by political or economic reasons of a very few.”

        • davvid

          The building will not be a monument to one man. It’s a museum that will contain creative work produced by individuals and teams of talented people.

          The building itself will also be produced by a network of extraordinarily talented people who challenged themselves and cultural boundaries. It’s sad that Chicago activists are positioning themselves against art just because the project is being funded by wealthy donors.

          It’s also sad that urban activists are pretending that a parking lot used for parking and tailgating is somehow a higher use for this land than a museum. It’s a reflection of the tangled web of class-war and culture-war grievances that prevent large civic projects from taking place.

          • GeorgieGirl

            You don’t seem to be getting that the land along the lakefront was deemed “open and clear” for everyone. Chicago is not at all against art – just the opposite. Beautiful alternate sites were proposed but the billionaire and his ego wants protected land.

            If everyone who wanted to build on the lakefront was allowed, there wouldn’t be any open land there. It would resemble New York’s dismal by comparison waterfront. I hope he builds in Chicago but just not there.

        • Mark

          It is a museum much like the aquarium, field, and planetarium, all on the lakefront.

          How it is funded is besides the point. It is for everyone’s use. If anything is not for public use it is McCormick place which is for conventioneers only.

          Being such an icon on the lakefront however, it should not be touched.

  • picky

    Brother for Future Systems Czech National Library. ;)

  • George

    300,000 square foot is equal to 27,870 square metres (not 91,440).

    • Hi George, thanks for pointing this out. We’ve amended the story accordingly. Best, Ross/Dezeen