George Lucas Picks Architects for His Chicago Museum

George Lucas. Photo: © 2014 Patrick McMullan Company, Inc.

George Lucas, the art collector and filmmaker behind classics including Star Wars and American Graffiti, has selected the team of architects who will design his Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (LMNA), now slated for a site on Chicago’s lakefront—after he picked the Windy City over San Francisco and Los Angeles—in spite of Chicago Bears fans’ fervent opposition. The principal designers on the project will be Beijing firm MAD Architects, with local Chicago outfit Studio Gang contributing landscape design and a bridge linking the museum to nearby Northerly Island.

This won’t be the first museum project for MAD Architects, which recently completed the  China Wood Sculpture Museum in Harbin, and is currently building the Pingtan Art Museum. It will, however, be the firm’s first built project in the United States. MAD founder Ma Yansong will take the lead on the LMNA project. The runner up in the design competition was the Dutch firm UNStudio.

“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,” Lucas said in a statement. “I am thrilled with the architectural team’s vision for the building and the surrounding green space. I look forward to presenting our design to the Chicago community.”

A rendering of the Lucas museum proposal for Crissy Field, which the Presidio Trust rejected. Photo via

A rendering of the Lucas museum proposal for Crissy Field, which the Presidio Trust rejected.
Photo via

The LMNA mockup that had been passed around previously showed an extremely unimaginative building more reminiscent of a suburban mall than a world-class museum, a shortcoming all the more startling for being associated with the director behind some of the most creative cinematic spectacles of the last half-century.

Studio Gang has been overseeing the transformation of Northerly Island from a small airport into a thriving park. The firm will design a new bridge connecting the museum and the island, which LMNA will build at no cost to the city.

A design for the museum building and grounds is due by the end of 2014.

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