The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art announced today that the George Lucas–founded organization would no longer pursue a location in Chicago for the proposed museum. Renderings of the proposed museum, designed by Beijing-based MAD Architects, were first released in late 2014, and as ARCHITECT reported at that point: "Los Angeles and San Francisco were in the running for the museum before filmmaker George Lucas selected the Chicago waterfront site in June. An earlier proposal for San Francisco's Presidio was rejected by the Presidio Trust, along with two other unrelated proposals for the site."
As the Chicago Tribune reports, the museum project, proposed for a site on Chicago Park District land near Soldier Field, has been in the middle of a legal battle following a lawsuit filed by the Friends of the Parks. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed to move the project to the McCormick Place convention center property to no avail.
The project is now headed back to California, according to today's statement. San Francisco Chronicle's urban design critic John King says that MAD, led by Ma Yansong, may still be involved:
Treasure Island definitely now in the mix -- and from what I hear, Lucas likely to stick with architect Ma Yansong https://t.co/nyFI6fN9sT— John King (@JohnKingSFChron) June 24, 2016
The full statement is copied below:
Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Withdraws from Chicago
Museum will be built in California
CHICAGO, June 24, 2016 — The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art announced today that in light of extensive delays caused by Friends of the Parks, Chicago will no longer be considered a potential site for the museum. The board of directors and executive leadership of the museum confirmed that California will be its future home.
“No one benefits from continuing their seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot,” said George W. Lucas, founder and chairman of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. “The actions initiated by Friends of the Parks and their recent attempts to extract concessions from the city have effectively overridden approvals received from numerous democratically elected bodies of government.”
The location — a parking lot near Soldier Field — was originally selected by Chicago’s Site Selection Task Force in May 2014 and subsequently approved by the City Council, Park District, Plan Commission, Department of Zoning, Illinois General Assembly and the governor. When the city offered McCormick Place East as an alternative to the parking lot, Friends of the Parks announced plans to block consideration of that location as well as any lakefront site or park in Chicago.
On behalf of his wife, Mellody Hobson, and other members of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art Board of Directors, Mr. Lucas expressed gratitude to the many people throughout the community who worked tirelessly to bring the institution to life on Chicago’s Museum Campus. “We are deeply appreciative to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Governor Bruce Rauner and countless others for all the time and effort they invested in trying to secure the museum for Chicago,” said Mr. Lucas.
The education-focused public institution remains dedicated to expanding public understanding and appreciation of narrative art in all its forms, providing inspiration and learning, especially for young people.
Mr. Lucas stated, “While Chicago will not be home to the museum, my wife and I will continue to enthusiastically support a wide variety of educational and cultural activities throughout the city.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office tweeted out the following statement:
Statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art pic.twitter.com/dLyFoJhD7r— ChicagosMayor (@ChicagosMayor) June 24, 2016
Friends of the Parks posted the following statement to Facebook: