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Behold the grandiosity of the George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art proposed for the Chicago lakefront. It is unclear exactly what it might contain besides the costumes and props for Lucas’s Star Wars cinema franchise.  The public relations bullshit cooked up to promote this roughly 30–story-tall monstrosity tells the tale in superlative bombast:

The Lucas Museum design is both futuristic and timeless. Its continuous, undulating organic surface blurs the line between structure and landscape. As the harbor 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 is not an isolated object, but a spatial experience that is defined by the people who occupy it and interact with it. Its organic surface is made of a single material, a stone as primitive as it is futuristic, evoking the great achievements of architectural history.

How’s that for grad-school blather?  It’s really as simple as this: George Lucas is into sic-fi, therefore his memorial ought to look like a UFO. They didn’t say that of course. But then, American culture flew up its own bung-chute years ago. We’re addicted to lying, confabulating, and putting over techno-narcissistic show-off stunts. To really make it perfect, Lucas ought to have his remains encased in an acrylic block and displayed for posterity along with R2D2 and the original Chewbacca suit.

Below is a map showing the growing architectural clutter south of Grant Park. The Lucas Museum site is at Number 5.
Remember, societies build their most grandiose monuments just before they collapse.

Lucas 3 Lucas 1

 

About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

14 Responses to “December 2014” Subscribe

  1. swhite December 2, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    Will there be enough parking?

  2. shabbaranks December 2, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    This proposed structure looks reminiscent of the US pavilion at Expo ’74, located in Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington. The roof of that structure deteriorated greatly (as will no doubt happen in windy, cold snow-bound Chicago too) so that today the pavilion is now some wire-bound cable structure that also has the same UFO top “floating” above. It looks like some alien ship is attempting to cast a net over a pack of distraught humans beneath. The horror!

    The contrast between the modernist impulse that formed the US pavilion in Spokane and more classical forms is evident when you look at a picture of Riverfront park. Standing gracefully nearby is the Great Northern Railroad Depot Clock Tower. Remember when there was a real passenger rail network? I do.

    The “Experience Music Project” or EMP located in Belltown, Seattle, Washington houses a similarly irrelevant collection of popular culture & science fiction artifacts. I paid the $18 for a ticket once. The building that shields the objects within from the Northwest rain is a Frank Gehry designed monstrosity with a discombobulated aluminum and stainless steel roof that has “future scrap metal” written all over it. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, benefactor of the EMP, inaugurated the place years ago by taking a Dale Chihuly designed glass guitar, raising it above his head on stage and smashing it to the floor, shattering the artwork into a million pieces. Prophetic.

    • xhidarta December 15, 2014 at 9:07 am #

      “a Frank Gehry designed monstrosity with a discombobulated aluminum and stainless steel roof that has “future scrap metal” written all over it.”

      This is Kunstler-quality type of take down. Excellent, it made me crack up.

  3. Being There December 6, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    Maybe its the site of the Star Wars bar—in any case, I want to see Jabba the Hut inside.

  4. AKlein December 8, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Looks like a giant amoeba. The Blob that will eat Chicago?
    I’ve spent some effort trying to think of the one adjective that best describes this structure. How about “execrable?” Yeah, it fits.

  5. mdhendler December 8, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    I was wondering if you could consider “datacenters” for one of your Eye Sore topics. I live in Loudoun County, Virginia where ugly, cement, wondowless, structures are popping up like mushrooms after a rain. They are uglier then airport garages and nearly as large. These things really do pop up in as few as a couple of weeks.
    It is the perfect architectural form for the digital age, huge boxy, flat-roof “buildings” with no windows and few people, but burning lots of fossel fuel.

    • DadzMad December 8, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

      Or how ’bout the gorgeous now Amazon distribution centers popping up in strategic locations. Talk about brick and mortar!

  6. DadzMad December 8, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    Why does everything in Chicago become an architectural dick measuring contest? Went to the Garfield Conservatory the day after Thanksgiving with the whole family and had a blast. It was packed with people from all walks of life and the donation box was full, but it’s old and will probably be torn down for something like this. The property is too valuable to be enjoyed by everyone.

    • xhidarta December 15, 2014 at 9:13 am #

      “…dick measuring contest” ? LOL. I got to save that, it’s a very apt qualification that applies to more than one city, Miami for instance where I live next to.

      The “dick measuring contest” is all the rage.

      However, for all the grandiosity sprouting up under a jungle of cranes, again, (2008 Redux), there’s no massive transit system to speak of or efective drainage for the tropical rains on a city that’s the canary on the coal mine of rising sea levels.

  7. dclacy December 8, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    Maybe the halo on top is a big mechanical fart fan designed to suck out all the stinky, hot ego gas within.

  8. piltdownman December 12, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    Chicago, that bastion of great architecture, will eventually fold in on itself, but don’t fear, the entire show will be reflected in a giant, shiny jelly bean in “Millennial Park!” The “devil is in the detail,” indeed, but the shit is there for all to see…

  9. pmarproject January 2, 2015 at 10:01 am #

    This building looks interesting, then on closer inspection it just makes me angry. It isn’t really a building, but rather an odd sheet massing to be made out of concrete? And why are there people photoshopped in perched here and there like seagulls? Everything about this annoys me. With all the interesting concept art of futuristic buildings from Star Wars, that actually look like usable structures, and this is what they come up with?

  10. PeteAtomic February 23, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

    I thought the only thing George Lucas destroyed were his own movies, now he’s turning to buildings?
    🙂

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