Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kamin Joins the Chorus: CCM - Stop Hiding Your Museum!

Blair gets it. Months after we began talking about how the Chicago Children's Museum is deliberately withholding all but the most deceptive images of the large structure they want to muscle into Grant Park, the Chicago Tribune's Pulitzer-Prize winning architecture critic Blair Kamin blasted the museum and its architects, Krueck and Sexton, for withholding all but the most abstracted images on the proposed structure from the public.

In a demonstration of just how much K&S has allowed itself to be co-opted by the museum's cynicism, project manager Tom Jacobs posted a comment to Kamin's article, which reads:
The Chicago Tribune has been in possession of many presentation plans, sections, and elevations for the proposed Children’s Museum since April 4, 2008 including several views of the sculptural glass entrance and skylights. The choice of illustrations that tell an incomplete and one-sided architectural story was made solely by the Tribune. We would like to encourage all media to contribute to fair, complete and accurate reporting to facilitate the needed debate.
Yeah, right. In fact Kamin posted 12 of the 14 images on his blog, and you can see them all here. (Missing were - still another! - meaningless cross-section, and a photograph of the current garage entrance, for which we include our own photograph below.)
And what exactly are these images Jacobs would have you believe provide you the real story? Let's start at the beginning, with the first image, of the current Daley Bicentennial Plaza, which we've cribbed from Blair's Skyline blog:
Wow, how objective. Taken in what looks to be the dead of winter, all parched brown earth. The desert in Lawrence of Arabia was more inviting.

Now here's what Daley Bi really looks like, in a similar, if less wide angle shot, taken this past Sunday.
The next two images are birds-eye view of about six square blocks around the museum drawn from about half a mile up. Four is a cutaway drawn from about two blocks away. The next four are floor plans. The last four are cutaways. In three of them the museum - all levels - takes up about a sixth of the vertical space of the rendering; about two-thirds is given over to empty sky. Every one of these drawings deliberately seeks to obscure the scale of Krueck and Sexton's proposed buildings both to the existing park and to the human form.

And I will repeat a point that Kamin does not mention. There have been no images released - as in zero, none - of what the interiors of the 100,000 square foot museum will be like. This would be unacceptable for any project of this size, but for a proposal for a subterranean design to be occupied by children, to be built on public ground, and its operations subsidized by taxpayer funds, it is unconscionable.

And what is most disconcerting is how many sterling reputations are being voluntarily trashed in service of the Museum's desperate campaign to force its way into the Park. A great Chicago family of philanthropists, the Pritzkers, have descended into the gutter to smear opponents of Gigi Pritzker's pet project as racist. There's some solace, I suppose, in the fact I can no longer find on the Krueck and Sexton website a "press section" on the CCM project that consisted in its entirety of two news articles playing up that race-baiting theme, but its supremely depressing that Tom Jacobs has decided to transform himself from a talented architect to a snake-oil salesman. When he says that the 14 images released to Tribune give a true picture of the CCM design, he knows he's lying, and when he concludes with, "We would like to encourage all media to contribute to fair, complete and accurate reporting to facilitate the needed debate," he knows he's doing everything in his power to ensure exactly the opposite.

7 comments:

jack said...

once again, Mr. Becker, I would be more then happy to walk you through the K+S drawings, "cut-aways from 2-blocks away" (otherwise known as sections and would be impossible to draw "from 2-blocks away"....they are simply and accurately drawn to scale)....the sections, by the way, would be the only accurate way to judge the before and after conditions objectively and the proposed design in relation to human scale...

whily I was earning a degree at the GSD, Jorge Silvetti always made the point that perspective renderings could never be relied upon to judge the merits of an architectural project due to their inherent subjectivity in their process of creation....the only accurate way to judge is from scaled drawings: plans, axons, sections....

so, I know a lot of the 'public' has a hard time understanding the accurate, but arbuably abstracted drawings, but all of the necessary detail is there....please, let me help you with understanding archictural plans....(feel free to invite Blair as well)

oh, and Mr. Becker, please use your posted photos to point out where, if any, of the depicted green space will be eliminated...

Anonymous said...

they apparently did not teach proofreading at the GSD. Mr. Silvetti is embarrassed for you.

jack said...

have you ever seen Jorge's spelling? ;-)

sideofwisdom said...

If having Blair Kamin (AKA Jon Arbuckle) on your side doesn't prove that your paranoia about this project is ridiculous than I don't know what will...remember this could have ended up as a Gensler special, at least they are doing something worth building.

Rodolfo said...

Do you know Jorge Silvetti??!!? You are amazing!!11!1!!!

What is known of the design- without a section through the entry pavillion, or any indication of what the interiors would be like- is incomplete. From what is seen of the design it can be assessed that this is indeed a building and, therefore, illegal.

Robert Salm said...

The missing drawings they need to release are realistic point-of-view perspectives from several angles; not just cross sections, general site plans and sketchy elevations. So far, I've seen enough to get the general idea of what areas will be redeveloped for the museum and the masterplan for the entire area.

I'll be honest, folks: the more I look at the plans and see what they're doing to that whole area, the more I grow content that if it does go through it will surely look better than that dingy and eroding Fieldhouse currently there.

That's not to say I've resigned myself to the CCM's move, nor do I approve of the way the CCM's Board and the Mayor have colluded to ram this project through. I'm against the project.

Warrenfleland said...

"point out where, if any, of the depicted green space will eliminated..."

anywhere where there is a glass skylight....

sure complain that it is currently not green space, but concrete... at least I can walk on the concrete - no so on the glass.