Chicago Children's Museum: A first look at the plans for Grant Park is the name Chicago Tribune architectural critic Blair Kamin gave to a Friday posting on his Skyline blog.
No, not really. The Museum's campaign of evasiveness and secrecy continues unabated. The "look" that Kamin describes is twelve more of the same dishonest images the CCM has clung to since the debate began. (I'm assuming he published everything CCM gave him.)
It begins, as could be expected, with a photo of the current Daley Bicentennial, conveniently taken in winter - all leafless trees and brown lawns - to make it look as forlorn as possible. (You can see photos of what it actually looks like in bloom here.) Then we get the same aerial views we've seen before, from so far up that it wouldn't matter how high the museum structures are - even Frank Gehry's soaring Pritzker Pavilion, on the other side of Columbus Drive, looks as flat as a pancake. Next there's a number of cutaway elevations, and a rendering of the view to the north, again drawn from an enormous distance to eviscerate any real sense of human scale. And finally a series of floor plans for the different levels, the only thing really new. (Judge for yourself. You can see them all here.)
Even the Tribune appears to believe the museum's offerings are inadequate. They had Gentry Sleets and Phil Geib create their own graphic, again an aerial view, of the proposal.
CCM's architects Krueck and Sexton have made drawings - lots of them - that actually show how their skylights will look in the park to a human being - not a bird flying just beneath the clouds. There are drawings of what the atrium and entrance pavilion will actually look like, not the white abstracted blobs that appear in the renderings released to Kamin. I've seen them, both at the infamous community meeting hijacked by museum supporters, and in a recent presentation at the Chicago Architectural Club.
Yet in it's apparently infinite contempt for the public, the Museum continues to hide these drawings. Why? I would suggest it's because they know that if they're released and people see how the structures it wants to build will actually be experienced by people in the park, it could be toxic to their case. I could, of course, be wrong - the public might find the "sculptural" skylights enthralling - but the Museum's continuing refusal to let them be seen leads me to suspect they may agree with my assessment of the downside. The Tribune's on-line poll, despite what I would expect to be organized block voting by both the Museum and the opponents of its move to Grant Park, has been holding at 66.6% of voters, as of this writing numbering 3,781, saying "No" to CCM's proposal.
Blair, you're being spun. You're the guy with the Pulitzer, the man with the clout. Tell CCM President Jennifer Farrington to stop the stonewalling and release the drawings she's keeping hidden, and let the public decide.