Dezeen Magazine

MAD reveals concept design for George Lucas' Chicago art museum

News: Beijing firm MAD has unveiled the initial design for an art museum on Chicago's lakefront, which will house the collection of American film director George Lucas.

MAD was selected alongside Chicago based Studio Gang by Star Wars creator George Lucas in July to design the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (LMNA) and its grounds.

MAD has now unveiled the design for the building, which will present a history of the moving image using Lucas' existing collection and new additions. Studio Gang is creating the landscaping for the site as well as a new bridge to connect the museum to the nearby Northerly Island peninsula, which has not been made public yet.

The result is a curving white stone building with extremities that extend into the landscape, creating a platform above the main entrance. At the highest point, a flat top is covered by a "floating" disc, forming a sheltered viewing area that offers visitors vistas of Chicago and Lake Michigan.

Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago by MAD

Slices cut out of the facade provide space for slivers of glazing, while three levels of exhibition spaces form "infinite loops" inside, according to the designers. A large, open lobby area inside the entrance described as an "urban living room" is lit by a central skylight.

"The Lucas Museum design is both futuristic and timeless," said the team in a statement. "Its continuous, undulating organic surface blurs the line between structure and landscape. As the harbour rises up to the land, it merges with stone surfaces that reach up to the sky and ultimately crescendo into a 'floating' disc."

The museum will occupy a site near some of Chicago's existing institutions on a stretch of land that has become known as Museum Campus. Studio Gang's design will connect the new building to the park the firm created on Northerly Island.

MAD founder Ma Yansong, whose current projects include a complex of buildings in Beijing meant to emulate the forms of classical Chinese landscape paintings, said he wanted to make the museum building appear like a "wave" coming out of the ground.

Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago by MAD

"The green space, the public park is a great asset for Chicago and I want our building to blend into this environment, so you don't tell where the building is, where the park is," he said. "You will see the building as a landscape in front of all these modern skyscrapers."

"Our museum is not in the city, not in the downtown area. It is on the edge of the artificial and nature. So I was thinking, maybe our architecture can bring the nature force, like water waves."

Chicago-based studio VOA Associates will act as the executive architect to implement MAD's design.

"We are bringing together some of the top architects in the world to ensure that our museum experience begins long before a visitor ever enters the building," said George Lucas, in a statement published in July when the architects for the project were announced. "I am thrilled with the architectural team's vision for the building and the surrounding green space."