Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Meeting Tonight Considers Children's Museum Muscling into Grant Park

The Grant Park Advisory Council/Grant Park Conservancy will be holding a meeting tonight, Tuesday, May 29th, at 6:30 at Daley Bicentennial Fieldhouse, 337 East Randolph just east of Columbus, to consider Krueck and Sexton's latest redesign for a new Chicago's Children Museum in Grant Park, just south of Randolph. The revised two-story 100,000-square-foot design, though largely underground, would still eat up parkland for sprawling skylights and green roofs. Lots of glass, apparently.

In the best Chicago tradition, the museum is seeking to buy off community groups with the inclusion of a new 20,000 square foot fieldhouse, causing Advisory Council President Bob O'Neill, a critic of the earlier design, to revert to his traditional role as unflagging cheerleader for all whims Daley. (The mayor has endorsed the Museum's move to Grant Park from its current home at Navy Pier.) "The public will be blown away by the innovative designs, and that will overwhelm the negativity," O'Neill told the Tribune. If you need this decoded, "negativity" refers to any dissent from City Hall's omnipotent, unchallengeable wisdom.

It remains to be seen whether another community group, Friends of Downtown, will also take the bait, having previously taking a position opposing the construction as both a violation of A. Montgomery Ward's hard-won battle to have the park declared “Public ground—a common to remain forever open, free and clear of any buildings or other obstructions whatever,” and also as setting a precedent for allowing admission-required facilities in a public park whose attractions historically have been free.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the people living in the highrises along Randolph treat Grant Park as their own personal backyard. So if any plans inconvenience them, even if they benefit the rest of the city and visitors who have as much of a right to the park, the plans have to be scrapped.

Let's hope some of those who attend embarrass themselves like at the Renzo Piano bridge meeting.

terry said...

Good luck. I'm with you from afar (Toronto).

Robert Salm said...

I am sorry if your neighborhoods are not as nice as ours, but please keep that Back of the Yards attitude there. If it is not the SOAR “not in my backyarders,” it is the denizens who live in, shall we say, less tax-supporting areas of the city. I live in the New East Side, and we pay the highest rental and housing prices in the city, not to mention that we enjoy our green spaces and urban planning. I think it’s fair that we get to have a say where our money is best spent if the city plans yet another overly funded “We the people” park or kiddie museum for busing in YOUR thousands of children.

Anonymous said...

Of course you have a say in what happens in Grant Park. However, if you believe in all that Ward "forever free and clear" junk, then you should also believe that Grant Park is not a neighborhood park but one that the whole city owns. Therefore, your opinion should hold no more weight than that of a person living in another ward.

And I might ask, why do you live in the New East Side? So you can be next to that tourist trap Navy Pier with busloads of kids, or to be near Millennium Park and those tourists or the ones going to various museums or festivals in the park? If you don't like the pedestrian and car traffic associated with a dense cultural district, why do you choose (remember, you pay the high rents and taxes) to live in the middle of it?

Anonymous said...

What, exactly, is "crap" about the legally enforceable covenant that no buildings whatever are permitted in Grant Park between Randolph and Park Row (11th Place)?

Ward wasn't fighting against slaughterhouses or steel mills in the park; he was fighting against museums in the park. Everyone else of any importance was lined up on the other side. Marshall Field's bequest for a Natural History Museum was running out, Burnham had plotted a Cultural Center at the foot of Congress in the park, and here's this jerk Ward fighting a quixotic battle against every civic leader of the time.

But guess whose vision seems more farsighted today? The guys who said we have to allow the Field Museum in Grant Park or it'll never be built--or Aaron Montgomery Ward's vision of "forever open, clear, and free?"

Robert Salm said...

First off, the New East Side is NOT near Navy Pier. That would be Streeterville, and I am certain residents over there have their own issues with car congestion…not that they should care since most buildings in that neighborhood sit on 5-floor parking garages elevated high up from the skinny sidewalks below. However, that is another matter. Why do I live at a building near Wacker and Columbus? The convenience, of course. As for Millennium Park, it is not so bad since the Panzer Division-style security guards on Segways keep everyone regimented into pockets of isolation.

For my two cents, I think the Chicago Children’s Museum in its current form and in future planning is just plain stupid. I went to the Navy Pier Children’s Museum a few years ago and thought it was the dumbest, most un-educational, overpriced hokum I had seen in a long time. After I visited two other Children’s Museums around the country--the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and the Houston Children’s Museum--I believe the current plan to throw this half-baked, two steps above Chucky Cheese, “museum” underground shows Mayoral arrogance. It is unfortunate that city planners cannot seem to build anything anymore without linking it up to a 2,000 car parking garage just to entice the hicks from Indiana and Wisconsin to visit Chicago.

Anonymous said...

grass is boring :-(
buildings are fun :-)