©2014 Alex Garcia
In case you don’t know about the month-long storm on the lakefront, the architect for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art along Chicago’s lakefront released his design last month. Because of its size and other-worldly appearance, it was widely criticized, most notably by Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic Blair Kamin, whose unmincing words can be seen below the screen grab of his article, above. The Friends of the Parks has launched a federal lawsuit saying the city and the Park District overstepped their authority – so the whole thing is a mess.
As someone who used to photograph for Kamin’s articles at the Trib, and as someone who passed by Soldier Field many times a week along Lake Shore Drive, what most bothers me is the architect’s illustration you see at top. It’s inaccurate at best, and deceptive at worst. At bottom is a photo I took from the closest I could get to the same vantage point of the sketch, which was probably from the roof of McCormick Place behind where I was standing.
The sketch completely eliminates the controversial western part of the Soldier Field addition, which is considered the last big architectural mistake by many along the lakefront. It has a spaceship like appearance. What Blair Kamin calls, “Klingon Meets Parthenon”.
Normally when an architect unveils their project, they are anxious to show how they have shaped the building to fit its environment, both functionally and aesthetically. At least that’s been my experience, unless someone wants to avoid an embarrassing project.
In this case, the other-worldly addition to Soldier Field probably accentuated the other-worldly design of the Lucas Museum, feeding criticism that the lakefront was becoming too, well, spacey. The citizens of Chicago probably didn’t need that reminder, or they thought Chicagoans couldn’t handle the truth about the future lakefront.
That, or the spaceship on Soldier Field was getting maintenance done on the morning the sketch artist showed up.
On Chicago’s lakefront, anything’s possible, I guess.