Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why is the Chicago Children's Museum Withholding Renderings of its New Building?

On WTTW tonight, there was another discussion on the proposed move of CCM to Grant Park, and once again the only visuals were bird's eye aerial views or wide-angle sections. Yet at the community meeting on Monday, September 10th, architect Mark Sexton included in his presentation a number of closer-in views of the large central courtyard and soaring skylights.

None of these renderings were made available to the Chicago Reader for my article published last week. None of them have appeared in the major Chicago dailies. It's just the same wide-angle drawings, recycled again and again.

What are you hiding, Mr. Law? Are you refusing to release these renderings because you know they will undercut your arguments on the minimal impact of the building on the park? Are you afraid they might turn opinion against you?

Stop hiding your building, Mr. Law. Release ALL the renderings that were displayed in Mark Sexton's presentation. Let the public decide.


Anonymous said...

Excuse me, Lynn, but I have to write this just how my psyche is right now.

Who in the hell thought up the idea to shove a children's learning environment--the CCH--underground? God, we are a simpleminded city with boneheaded politicians sometimes.

Here's an email I sent the CCH in their comments section:

Your museum has an artificially high opinion of itself to generate so much controversy over moving to Grant Park. I visited the CCH with a young child several months ago, and I think you are nothing more than a glorified Chucky Cheese mixed with a few very minor attractions. I’ve been to cities with far superior Children’s Museums—Indianapolis, Boston and Houston—and those museums offered myriad exhibitions far exceeding the CCH in both learning and value. I am even more incensed that the City is spending my tax dollars to help you move to what amounts to an underground cavern. Putting children in what amounts to a concrete bunker makes one of the worst statements in how Chicago cares for children and their museum learning experience. Chicago deserves better than the CCH’s current direction.

Anonymous said...

On another note, some have suggested that the landscaping on top of the proposed museum being the same as the lawn on top of the Grant Park garages. That point is very wrong. Most consider the ground level of Grant Park to be, roughly, the level of the lawn that is on top of the garages. Meanwhile, the roof of the proposed museum will be well above this level. It will a building rising from the lawn level with landscaping on top of the building.

Those garages are completely underground relative to the ground of Grant Park. To repeat, the landscaping on top of the Children's Museum is NOT like the lawn above the Grant Park garages.

Anonymous said...

Parks are more than dead grass and public bathrooms.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and if Daley gets his way, they'll all have parking garages and museums underneath them.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the new plans need to be distributed for all to see and a final dicision can not be made until then.

I still think that this is a great location for the CCM and designing it underground will work. The skylights can be integrated into the new landscape above and the obstructions will be minimal.

Just let us see what Kruek & Sexton are doing!!!!

Anonymous said...

There were several faults with my earlier posts: two sentences using the same syntax structure and naming the museum the “CCH” instead of the CCM. My bad.

My biggest criticism of the current scheme is that carving a large hole in a subterranean parking garage and parkland is bad planning for future museum growth. A far better idea would be to relocate the CCM to Northerly Island or in a park near the Museum of Science and Industry. Neither will happen, of course, because the museum’s sustenance rests in its ability to easily attract suburban tourists and people within close proximity.

I doubt very seriously that the CCM can exist on its own without a large and steady stream of tourists. Therefore, having a low maintenance, low cost structure is crucial to the CCM’s fiscal survival. Having a huge parking garage seems to be an integral factor in any major plan the City designs these days, and the gazillion parking spaces within a 2-minute walk from the proposed site feeds the lust for suburbanites to bring their gas guzzlers into town.

Rightly so, area neighbors are upset. The underground bunker/museum plan comes with myriad nuisances: endless yellow school buses parked along Randolph Street, the inevitable free street trolleys the City will run. These are certainly not racist views, nor are they irrational NIMBY rants from snooty Randolph Street high-rise dwellers. The people in the New East Side neighborhood pay well for their residences, assessments and taxes. They also desire a modicum of serenity and decorum that has been their way of life for decades. While residents know there’s a huge increase in the number of residential buildings and residents to the area, they also did not expect the City to remake the area into a heavily traffic’d tourism zone either.

Anonymous said...

Are you crazy!! They decided to live in downtown Chicago accross from Millennium Park!, where else would they expect tourists to be. If they cared about the future of this city, they would welcome the museum as a huge improvement to what is there now. Along with the museum Bicentennial Park will also be renovated.

Anonymous said...

The alderman and the people in the condo building are hiding behind Montgomery Ward. He wanted it free and clear so that the "public" could enjoy the park. These people want the opposite, they want it for their own personal use. They want it for kids, BUT only THEIR kids. The idea of too much traffic and people rings hallow when one considers that they moved in across from Millennium Park, a HUGE turist attraction.
They should STOP thier pretending and admit it has nothing to do with Ward's objectives, but all to do with their own personal needs.

Lynn Becker said...

Sorry, but you can't smear all of the move's opponents as self-serving neighbors of the park. Far larger numbers, including myself, DON'T live on the park and DO support maintaining the Ward mandates and oppose both this private encroachment and the others that would follow in its wake.

Anonymous said...

For those of you you don't live near the park and are using the Montegomery Ward argument for convenience.......where were all of you when the Harris was built, when the Gehry Bandshell was built, when the Prk Grill was built when the Bike Rack Building was built????

Its too late for all of you to PRETEND to care about CHicago now, now that it has become a POLITICAL battle its a question of who you hate more, the Mayor or the tourists.

Anonymous said...

After the fire, the plan was to place more huge public buildings in the park, not just anything. Ward won the battle and preserved the openess of the park. I support the addition of the Children's museum, because it has sparked this huge controversy. There should have been the same when the other "buildings" were built to form today's immensely popular Millennium park.

There should have been a BIGGER plan, one that included all of Grant Park, not just the Rail yard which is now Millennium Park.

This is what heppens when you piece meal a project. When is the "Planning and Development Dept" of Chicago actually do some PLANNING.

The Gehry bridge leads to NOWHERE! Now whose great idea was that? So here you have it, something at the other end of the bridge, someting to walk over the bridge for. Too bad, that most of the people opposing the museum have NEVER been to the other side of Millennium, Park, they have never crossed that bridge.

And too bad that if the rookie alderman gets his way it will forever remain ignored, underutilized and PRIVATE.

Lynn Becker said...

Sorry, a public park open to all, without charge or restriction is not "private", no matter how you try to spin it. And, again, I wrote at the time of the opening of Millennium Park about the sorry state of the other side of the Gehry BP bridge. Then it was just chain link and dirt, now at least it has attractive plantings. What I said then is true today - what's needed is not 110,000 square feet of new construction, but a bridge reconnecting the park to the lake, and a promenade down the sight line to Buckingham fountain.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps "anonymous" meant to say "exclusive". It seems the people currently using the Bicentennial playground want to keep their park "exclusive". That seems to be the issue as I see it.

Lynn Becker said...

The bottom line, of course, is that they can't keep it "exclusive" - the park, now, is open to all (and I have doubts that's what most residents meant), and there's a big difference between being open to the public and cramming 800,000 users of a private institution through there each year.

Anonymous said...

I love getting listening to the sheep in chicago. Thats what all of you people are when you say that the east side residents are selfish, exclusive, racist, etc.. If any of you took the time to go to any meetings you would feel differently. But you didn't and The Big Mayor says its this way so it must be. The neighborhood worries about traffic. Every building east of BC/BS is residential. It is also a dead end street. Of course the residents are not happy about 50 extra cabs an hour speeding in front of their homes. The discussions were never about foot traffic and who would use bicentennial plaza. The discussions were about cabs, cars and buses. Not who would arrive in them and not about taking our "exclusive" park. . Its always been about the safety of the neighborhood. There are a lot of families that live here and it is already dangerous. And for all of you people who make the lame comparison to millennium park being built. That park is free, the CCM is not. Sheep!

Anonymous said...

You talk as if the area you live in is a quiet "neigborhood" with little kids running up and down the block, picket fences and lawns. Chicago has plenty of those, so why did u choose to live in DOWNTOWN Chicago across from Millennium park?? I suppose you didn't notice all the traffic, the taxis, the Lake front, the 300 plus apts in your building the 10 bus lines on Michigan avenue, the thousands of people working in the Aon center and the Bc/Bs building- YOUR next door neighbors, the other huge highrises next door to you- the soon to come addition on top the BC/BS building of condos-The huge amount of traffic on Lake Shore Drive-YOU KNOW the view form your window- The FIRE Dept-For Christ's sake with an average of 8-10 calls a day blaring there sirens-the constant parade of tourists all around you-The HARRIS theatre accross form you- GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

All of this is here TODAY NOW.....You are a Hypocrit and an ELITEST....This is exactly where the Children's museum should be.... The center of town where all the action is-WHERE YOU LIVE...RELAX... you won't even notice the difference...

Anonymous said...

Unless you are referring to those that live in the Millennium Park Plaza, we do not live across from Millennium Park. We live across from GRANT PARK. They are two separate parks, and one is protected!

Lynn, thank you so much for your wonderfully written and thoughtful entries. I am impressed by your talent and excellent coverage of the issue.

Outer Drive East

Anonymous said...

Oh, please forgive me Rebecca, you are right. Thank you for pointing out the distinction. Millennium Park is for all us common folk, Grant Park , on the other hand is for the Exclusive use Of people who reside at "Outer Drive East".

How could I have been so insensitive!

Your most huble servant, Tom

Anonymous said...

Dear Huble Servant Tom,

If you're familiar with Randolph St. at Grant Park, it's a short dead end street. Can you direct me to another museum anywhere - where you can logistically add 2000+ cars, taxis and buses daily to a dead end street?

Also, there's no elitism here.

The Park is for everyone. People from all over the world come here to enjoy a bucolic "park". (you know....that place with trees, grass, flowers and "park" stuff like swings and slides and monkey bars.)

Over 100 trees will be cut down to put in an underground bunker for kids to play. How does that make sense?

How many buildings can you add to a park before there's no park left at all? The CCM has needed to move and expand every few years. Where will they expand within Grant Park when the time comes? I was at the meetings. Nobody from CCM was able or willing, to answer that question.

So, Huble Servant....pack a picnic basket, bring a blanket, bring the kids and a couple of frisbees. It's your park - you'd better enjoy it one last time while the weather's still nice and...before it's gone.


Anonymous said...


As you so clearly point out, because it is a dead end street and there is no where to park on Randolph the cars will be below upper Randolph on lower Randolph and on Lower Columbus Drive, where one of the many entrances to the Millennium and Grant Park garages are located.

I am sure there will be some drop offs of perhaps handicapped persons and school children on UPPER Randolph, but no where near 2000 per day as you say.

You and the rest of the Outer Drive East residents should stop misleading the public.

If you do not know what I am talking about then I suggest you get more familiar with your "neighborhood".

After-all, where do you think the thousands of cars that visit the Buildings and PARKS on the East side end up? You talk as if your area is quiet, serene and unpopulated.

The only problem i see on that end of Randolph are the countless FALSE ALARMS to the Fire Dept, especially during the winter months, just wasting taxpayers money.

Anonymous said...


So now is your chance to donate a tree to be planted somewhere. There are websites where you can actually DO something constructive.

And don;t you already have a huge green space in there somewhere with a playground all to yourselves?

Now is your chance to be PRO-active, rather than RE-Active. You know this is going to happen, there really are ALOT of good reasons for it, which outweigh the bad.

Make sure this never happens again, do something about it for the future. Don't just sit back for it to happen again then re-act, just like you all did a few yrs ago.

Where were all of you when they expanded Grant Park onto the Rail yard....oh thats right Millennium Park is accross from someone else's building, YOU are only concerned with what happens around your own Building.

Is that how you all really feel?..... tell me it isn't so. Otherwise, I think Tom hit it right on the head.

Lynn Becker said...

Don't you just love the arrogance of museum supporters: "You know this is going to happen."

In other words, The Chicago Sun-Times opposes the museum. The Chicago Tribune opposes it. Greg Hinz of Crain's Chicago Business opposes it. Opinion makers as diverse as Mark Brown, Neil Steinberg and Dennis Byrne oppose it. WTTW's viewer poll came out overwhelmingly against the museum; the same with letters to the editor in both dailies. Every time the public is surveyed, their answer has been a resounding "no!", by a wide margin.

But the museum doesn't care - its got clout in its back pocket. What began as a battle for the sanctity of Grant Park has become a referendum on the arrogance of power.

Anonymous said...

If you know anything about Chicago politics and the media, you know that the Media LOVE to HATE Daley.

Someone at the Tribune once told me that if they wanted to, they could have a column entitled, "City Hall Scandal of the Day" but they rather save their ammunition on days it will have the most impact.

Its really personal between Daley and the Tribune (Cubs), for years The City of Chicago only had a contract with The Sun-Times and refused to buy any ads or place notices in the Tribune. Well, that love fest is over, since the Sun-Times also turned on Daley with its TABLOID style, the slimes just couldn't resist.

As far as WTTW, when its framed around preservation, most people, especially WTTW listeners, like myself would always vote to preserve.

So , unfortunately, there are plenty of good reasons for the park and yeah some not so good, but we must all consider the greater good.

I think we should all move forward and make sure there isn't another chance for this to happen, rather than moan, cry, lie, and deceive the public into thinking that its an issue about preservation.

We all know, hard to admit, that its a case of "NOT in MY FRONT YARD". We got beat, lets admit it and move on. We are all looking like a bunch of elitist pigs.

Lynn, thank you for doing your part in allowing this blog to voice our opinions, no matter whose side you are on.

Lynn Becker said...

first, thanks for the thanks for providing this public forum, which I'm happy to do. the only bad part is that the comments are spread out among the various postings I've made on the issue. it would be nice to have them all together if you could still track what the poster was responding to.

now as to your comments.
1. if the dailies and Crain's were all backing the museum, it would, of course, be hailed as a grand love-in of civic pride. Because they have the temerity to question one of Daley's actions, they're all part of a vast anti-Daley conspiracy.

Yes, scandal sells papers, and I would suggest that's exactly what Daley had in mind with his wild diatribes - it may have been ugly and nonsensical, but he knew it would get him on the front pages and in the leads of the newscasts. And it's not like scandals are just something the papers are making up - ask any of the former city employees who've been convicted in them.

2. I've often written very favorably about Millennium Park because it was a great idea that was, ultimately, superbly executed. I write repeatedly on the Chicago Children's Museum in Grant Park because it's a thoroughly horrible idea, executed with a hammy fist.

3. While it's fun to keep taunting area residents as a bunch of over-privileged NIMBY'S, I - and I would dare say, most museum opponents DO NOT live on Grant Park. I live in Marina City. If, as the mayor and the the museum's supporters keep repeating, Grant Park is for all of Chicago, that means me, and the countless others like me, and I don't want 120,000 square feet of new construction, with 50 feet high skylights in a part of Grant Park that is now open and clear.

4. MOST IMPORTANTLY: As for your suggestion that we all just let this one pass and stop the next one, that's not really an option, because Daley is making this a test case. If he's allowed to succeed on a museum proposal that's triggered broadly based, high-profile opposition, he'll have established the principle that, as he's said repeatedly, the A. Montgomery Ward protections are bunk, and he can build pretty much anything in Grant Park that he pleases. which will become especially troubling if we land the 2016 Olympics.

Make no mistake: if Daley wins on CCM, (and there's no ensuing litigation, which is, of course, the tool that Ward successfully used) the protection of Grant Park as open land is dead.