Don Bacigalupi will start as the president of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in January.
Don Bacigalupi will start as the president of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in January.

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art announced on Monday that Don Bacigalupi will be the proposed Chicago museum's founding president. Bacigalupi is leaving his position as the president of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and will begin in his new role on Jan. 15 of next year.

Bacigalupi began as executive director of Crystal Bridges in 2009, and was named the museum's president in February of 2013. He will stay on as a museum board member.

"He came on board when the museum was in its early stages, guiding our direction through the building phase and helping to shape the development and exhibition of our art collection," said Alice Walton, founder and board chair of Crystal Bridges, in a museum press release. "His expertise in overseeing the launch of new institutions makes him an ideal leader for the Lucas Museum, and we’ll be applauding his accomplishments."

It sounds like the Lucas Museum wants him to do much of the same in Chicago. According to a Lucas Museum press release, Bacigalupi's initial responsibilities will be the "planning, organization and construction of the Museum," proposed for a lakefront site in Chicago.

South view. (November 2014)
Lucas Museum of Narrative Art South view. (November 2014)

While Bacigalupi doesn't take the reins for roughly two months, he's stepping into a project that has had some public relations bumps lately. Earlier this month, the museum released preliminary renderings of the building, designed by Chinese firm MAD Architects, to widespread criticism. New York Magazine's Justin Davidson calls the design "ridiculous," and writes, "...the design, by MAD founder Ma Yansong, oozes across the site, swallowing land, looming over the shoreline and sneering at Chicago's architectural heritage." The city's own Chicago Tribune critic Blair Kamin blames most of the design problem on the project's size, noting that the proposed building is over four times what George Lucas wanted to build in San Francisco. 

"The architect's response was to stack the museum's many facets on the 17-acre site's southern half and arrange them as a collection of bulbous peaks. Voila — Mount Lucas! This is the Temple of George, a monument to its patron rather than a modest addition to a democratic public space."

The Chicago Tribune's editorial board also argued against the museum's lakefront location, and another group is now suing the city over it. The editorial board writes: 

"Architectural design has always been the lesser of two key issues in this attempted land grab. The more important is whether another big building should crowd an already thickly occupied stretch of lakefront in an increasingly dense realm to the south of Grant Park.

We won't adjudicate competing aesthetics. Designs can be redrawn. But with this one, Lucas has shown the sheer immensity of his ambitions."