Saturday, April 05, 2008

Chicago Childrens Museum Continues to Hide Museum Design

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.


rjj said...

I was expecting to see the entry pavilion impinge upon the existing (and now almost useless) skating rink. This does look as though they are staying tight to Randolph and creating a consistent northern wall along with the Harris Theater.

Again - disruption to the park will be all about pedestrian flow. An expanded pedestrian way needs to be provided from Navy Pier to this area - the existing sidewalk at Lower LSD across the river is too small. My concern is that this has been a haven of tourist-free area and personally, I don't want to lose that.

It appears as though the trees (which are beautiful in bloom) and tennis courts will stay.

If done with consideration to the park, this may not be as horrible as everyone anticipates. Although with underground structures comes the need for air to be supplied - they need to indicate what / how / where outside air will be brought in.

Anonymous said...

It is illegal to build in Grant Park.

Anonymous said...

The museum folks have been arrogant and dishonest from the very beginning of this disgusting debacle. Why should we expect them to change their tune now?

Anonymous said...

Blair Kamin is about as relevant as a childrens museum to the successful functioning of a great city

rjj said...

And it's illegal to jaywalk. But guess what it happens. Regardless of who is right in this discussion, I suspect that the museum will happen, just like Northerly Island / Miegs Field.

I hate to say it but I think it may be best to accept inevitability and work to ensure that all that is necessary to meet the goals of 'Don't build on Grant Park' and that of the nearby residents are actually met.

jack said...

Mr. Becker, I would be glad to assist you in understanding K+S's detailed planes, elevations, and sections. Your posturing that the CCM is trying to hide something is rather ludicrous when you examine all of the information that has been published. A model maker would easily be able to build a detailed model with all that info.

And, BTW, every professional knows that perpsective rendering are inherently misleading and also the easiest form of representation to manipulate to one's favor. You should be grateful that they have focused on the only honest way to represent the design.

Could it be that you are upset that the new proposal so clearly demonstrates a vast improvement architecturally from the existing conditions?

Anonymous said...

Who is jack?

Lynn, maybe you should take him up on his offer to show you the detailed architectural plans..

Anonymous said...

In my professional opinion, that model would suck ass.

Anonymous said...

Who is jack?