MCA Chicago’s $16 Million Renovation to Feature New Chris Ofili Commission

The redesign will be completed by June 2017.

MCA Chicago front steps. Courtesy of Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has announced plans for a $16 million renovation that will reconfigure its public spaces while retaining the institution’s current footprint.

“Bigger is not always better,” Madeleine Grynsztejn, the museum’s director, told the New York Times, adding that the redesign is about “finding new ways to bring art, learning and food together, reflecting how people like to experience culture today.”

In a statement, the museum promised a “livelier, more creative space that will engage audiences and be activated by living artists.” Los Angeles architects Johnston Marklee, led by Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, will oversee the project. The pair are also serving as artistic directors of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee. Courtesy of Eric Staudenmaier, via MCA Chicago.

Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee. Courtesy of Eric Staudenmaier, via MCA Chicago.

Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili is also involved, having been commissioned to create a major mural for the museum’s new restaurant. The artist’s first permanent museum commission in the US, it will set the visual tone for the entire establishment, with Ofili also helping to select additional interior design elements. Jason Hammel, founder of Chicago’s Lula Cafe, will serve as the establishment’s head chef.

The restaurant will be accessible from the street, and it will not require visitors to pay the $12 suggested admission price. The same goes for a new 12,000 square-foot lounge and performance space, called the Commons, to be built in the lobby by Mexico City design team Pedro y Juana. The space will feature plant-shaped lamps, hanging plants, and special collapsible furniture that can be stored on the walls.

The third component of the redesign is a new education wing with state-of-the-art classrooms overlooking Lake Michigan.

The institution plans to unveil the completed redesign in June 2017, timed to the opening of its Takashi Murakami retrospective and the start of the museum’s 50th anniversary celebration.

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